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Help Generations help kids




Next Health Minister from NDG?


Holiday Happenings

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Holiday Destinations

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Holiday wrap-up challenges charities p. 3


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“The recession has hit as far as we’re concerned,” says Sun Youth founder Sid Stevens. “We normally average about 200 families a month that we give food to. We’re adding 250 families to that list.” For the first time in 50 years the organization had to do a food drive during the summer just to keep up. “There’s banks in trouble, but you have to include food banks now too.” Generations Foundation’s Adrian Bercovici concurs. “It’s an unusual kind of creeping poverty. I wouldn’t be surprised, in the next month or two, as things keep going downhill, if we get stockbrokers’ families asking for help.” He sees the signs daily. “There’s a lot more kids that need clothing, extra school supplies – we’ve never had to give out school supplies this time of year, ever.” And the phenomenon touches every community he serves: “This week you’ve got two more kids in one school, next week three more in another school... so when you look at it, you think, what’s one more kid? It’s not like a hundred kids in one place.” But, he says, “It’s a creeping thing, once you start adding it up across the island – a few people lose their jobs, it’s harder to take care of the kids – they have a little less, so they tend to rely on us for breakfast or lunch… or they’re taking a cut in pay, or maybe they’re laid off for a couple weeks.” The recent crush on the frontlines, in his experience, “seems to be more of a middle class thing.” No charity in Montreal has been spared the current climate’s triple squeeze – increased demand, rising costs, and dwindling contributions. At the Salvation Army the numbers are causing “quite a shortfall” according to spokesman Michel Tassé. “Since April our requests for food assistance have doubled,” he estimates, with donations “about the same as last year.” A similar equation hampers efforts over at Share the Warmth, where Associate Director Lise Lalande observes “more people are coming to us for help who don’t normally do so –


Gift bears, anyone? Share the Warmth’s Lalande people coming in who have never come for help before, but now they just can’t manage. Their income just doesn’t make it anymore.” The lineups at Sun Youth’s food bank are only the beginning, predicts Emergency Services director Tommy Kulczyk.“The peak will only be seen in about four to six months,” he says, noting that those thrown out of work mostly start to show up once unemployment benefits run out. “I hope people understand we’re helping people who have no margin of error. It’s not a question of reducing something. These people have to cut on basic, essential items. They can’t cut the rent. They can’t cut their heating. They have to cut food.” And while those ranks are swelling, supply is shrinking. “Every food bank in Montreal has said the same thing the last couple of months,” he

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maintains. “Donations went down 30% during the summertime.” A hundred-dollar contribution this year, he calculates, amounts only to about twothirds as much food as last year. “Everything went up. Basic food – pasta, rice, it all went up 30 or 40%. Beef went up 40%. Even packaging went up 18%.” The belt-tightening hurts on multiple fronts. “There are less and less food suppliers and distributors that give us stuff,” says Lalande.“We used to have quite a lot that would give us their surpluses. But I think everyone is producing closer to what they really need to – companies don’t seem to have a lot of overstock, and that’s what we normally benefit from.” Meanwhile, heavyweight contributors are coming up empty. “Most bigger donors are foundations or companies, and if their profits or returns are down, it’s going to affect all the [charitable] organizations, so we count on everybody trying to give a little bit more to make the difference.” That same problem is making for “a very long year” at Sun Youth: “[Foundations] take a sum of money and invest it and distribute the interest, and a lot of the interest is 50 to 60% of what it was last year,” notes Kulczyk, “so the foundation finds itself with less revenue, and people have to make a choice – reduce the number of groups they give to, or cut down the amount they give to each group.” That deficit may sink many programs. Stevens relates how even after the special summer food drive, which collected 90 bins of food and raised $90,000,


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Adrian Bercovici of Generations Foundation “We spent it all by September 1, and had to go to our Board of Directors for a supplementary budget of $50,000.” It’s hard to see how they’ll make it through another year with even less foundation money. “We see no light at the end of the tunnel.” “It’s been very difficult,” says Peter Desmier of Epona Foundation, a nonprofit that keeps kids in school through tutoring and equestrian activities. “People are having a hard time of it in their own business and personal lives… So they can’t give as much as they did last year.” Desmier notices things getting tighter “definitely since September,” not only finding trouble getting new contributions but in fact sliding backwards. “Donors weren’t able to fulfill their commitments and it really hurt us, so it’s tough. That was money that we were anticipating, that would have got us through, but now we’re really scrambling. It’s caused us to be more conservative in our giving and how we manage our program and our resources. So it’s forcing the charities to start streamlining, and we’re having to develop more fundraising activities this year.” Even coach Jackie Poirier, of the foundation’s equestrian program at Free Spirit Stables in StLazare, has been recruited in their financial efforts. “She’s finding because we’re having such a hard time, she has to go and get involved in the fundraising herself. So she’s doing the Musical Ride this year, and asking people in the equestrian community to come see it and participate.” The event begins 7 pm Wednesday, December 10 at Free Spirit Stables ( Share the Warmth will also be getting musical fundraising help – from the McGill Chamber Orchestra, with a performance at 7 pm Thursday, December 11. Santa visits Saturday, December 20 with kids 10 and under, and toy donations as well

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“Now we’re really scrambling.” paign enables us to help 18-20,000 people during the whole holiday period.” Stevens asks that holiday revelers not let philanthropy bear the brunt of fiscal restraint.“We’re asking people to be a little more generous than they have in the past – although we appreciate what they’ve done in the past – we’re hoping they can do just a little more. If they just add one additional can, we’ll still be ahead. And if they haven’t given, we’re asking them to really do the best they can to start.” Epona Foundation: 514-421-7433 or Generations Foundation: 514-933-8585 or Salvation Army: 877-488-4222 or Share the Warmth: 514-933-5599 or Sun Youth: 514-842-6822 or

Photos: Robert Galbraith

as food and money are welcome. Lalande notes also that “we always need volunteers, especially during the week of December 15.” For the athletically inclined, the Salvation Army’s Santa Shuffle takes place on Mount Royal Saturday, December 6, organized by The Running Room. Participants in the 5 km run or 1 km walk will collect pledges to help raise the Army’s daunting $500,000 Christmas fundraising target. For early risers, Generations Foundation holds its holiday fundraising breakfast from 6:30 – 10 am Friday, December 5 at La Stanza, featuring guest speakers and prizes for kids. And throughout December, Sun Youth will be running their Christmas campaign, which, says Kulczyk, “[funds] about 80% of the food distributed through the 40 different programs we offer the community. Most of the time – whether we’re helping fire victims, victims of crime, or just people having problems with their budget – the first thing we do, usually, is feed them. So that cam-

Busier volunteers, longer lines, and emptier shelves illustrate the scope of the economic crisis at Share the Warmth

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Liberal catch Weil “not a policy wonk” NDG Liberal anointee Kathleen Weil is an expert’s expert – a self-confessed fan of policy wonks who insists she’s not one herself, thrice courted by senior officials before accepting her express ticket to the National Assembly and a virtually guaranteed cabinet post. A walking encyclopedia of civic demographics after eight years at the head of the Foundation of Greater Montreal and three years publishing Vital Signs – an annual statistical analysis of each of the region’s neighbourhoods – her grasp of the city’s changing composition is clearly unrivaled, and no political novice ever brought to the table more compelling expertise in the intricacies of healthcare funding and social service delivery on the ground. “Certainly being at the Foundation, you look at a community in a very integrated way,”she says.“Your transport plan, your environmental plan, your healthcare plan, your economic plan – you see them all as interrelated.” The FGM, created with a strategic $20-million pooled investment fund between the Montreal YMCA, Centraide and Red Feather, networks with charities and funds community projects, “getting to know what kind of initiatives the community is proposing and supporting those initiatives” with grants and other resources. Foundations, she explains, don’t do fundraising – they create endowment funds that allocate investment returns to various charitable causes, a sort of “permanent nest egg for the community.” In her time at the FGM, she brought a rigorously scientific approach to measuring the needs of communities and defining metrics for the social returns on their investments – the genesis of her exhaustive Vital Signs compendium. “What are the numbers you have to look at?” she asks. “What’s the socioeconomic breakdown, the age breakdown, the number of immigrants? I always start with learning about a community, whether it’s the greater Montreal community, or NDG – I like looking in depth,” taking statistics from various Ministries, crunching the numbers, and looking at social trends – “and then you have a better sense of whether the programs that exist are adapted to their needs… because the needs change, the data constantly change, populations change.”And are they adapting? “Well,” she says with serene self-assurance,“that’s what I’m going to find out, obviously.” Not much of a political animal on first impression, she’s never taken a run at public office before. “This is my first, and I actually have never been involved in political organization, I’ve always been more on the policy side,” she admits, though she denies being a textbook policy wonk: “Well, I’m not a policy wonk, really – I like policy wonks, but I’m not one. No, there’s another caliber of person that’s a policy wonk, really – because I really love people, and I love hearing their stories and what their challenges are, and then making the connection with the policy wonks, with the planners.” The previously reluctant candidate explains her prior refusal as mostly a question of timing.“When your kids are young – especially four of them – jumping into politics would be a little irresponsible,” she says.“And the career choices I made at that time were too interesting for me to abandon.”

Photo: Robert Galbraith

Adam Desaulniers

Now things have changed for her family and her career. “This time around the youngest is 13 and the oldest is 22,” and the experience she’s accumulated in the meantime, she contends, has made her more formidable as a candidate. “I’ve been building the Foundation now for 8 years, and previous to that I was the chair of the Regional Health Board, and very involved in healthcare reform.” By very involved, she means where the rubber hits the road, not just compiling reports. She becomes passionately animated talking about future developments in healthcare, having seen, she says, the cutting edge of innovation right here in Montreal. “I see some interesting changes. You now have these CSSSs (Centres de Santé et de Services Sociaux), to better organize your primary healthcare structures in your communities. They do planning [based on] data that StatsCan puts together: What’s the poverty level? How many seniors do you have? How many do you have over 75? And what’s coming up – how many baby boomers do you have? So they do that kind of planning, and emergency care, and connecting with the hospitals in their particular area. The other big change I’ve seen is that there now are these Groupes de Médecine de Famille, and the idea behind GMFs is you have doctors working in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, where once a patient is admitted to a GMF, on a permanent basis they have their family doctor in that group. It’s about one third of Montrealers who don’t have family physicians, so the idea behind GMFs is that they’re given some resources and money, and access to information technology and diagnostic technology.” The GMFs, she says, “clearly are part of the solution in recruiting new doctors,” admitting that “obviously in the medical schools, there’s a lot of work to be done, in terms of making it known that this kind of medicine can be very attractive, with more tools at their disposal and better results.” “My father was a doctor before the days of

Medicare,” she recalls.“He’d say,‘Okay kids, hop in the car,’ and we’d go down to Verdun and the whole Southwest,” where she and her siblings would wait patiently during his housecalls. “We saw a lot of poverty. They’d come out with whatever gifts the family could muster because they didn’t have the money to pay – and he was always making us aware of poverty issues.” It shaped her perspective, she maintains, and it’s a reassuring one to hear from the kind of person who isn’t always thought of as putting faces on the numbers. “I have a strong social justice background,” she says. “Most people know me as that, and my parents were the same. I think I’ll be very enthusiastic about any mandates I’m given – whatever commissions I’d be asked to sit on,” she muses, leaving aside any further speculation. With her predecessor enjoying a 61-to-16 percent victory over Green candidate Peter McQueen, she can be forgiven a bit of complacency. “There’s a meet-the-candidates night next week, so that’ll be my first time meeting Mr. McQueen,” she says at the time of her interview, mere weeks after accepting the invitation to run, and literally minutes before her inaugural door-to-door canvassing trip. “I’m just starting up. I’m getting our pamphlets today. That’s how quick this is…” – they in fact arrive as she speaks – “…I guess it’s been about three weeks or so since I made the decision, and everything then happened so fast.” A compelling moment to witness in the infancy of this assuredly high-profile political career, it’s greeted with the same air of quiet competence as the rest of the bustle around her freshly-minted campaign office. If any of her upcoming itinerary is giving her nerves, it doesn’t show as she makes her way outside to pound the pavement. “I’m looking forward to it!” Voting takes place 9:30 am – 8 pm Sunday, December 8. Polling station info: 888-ELECTION or December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 7

SUN YOUTH Thank you for helping us actively support your community – yet again! Dear Friends, As we quickly make our way to the end of another eventful year, we are pleased to report that our mission of community support was met once again, thanks in large part to generous members of the Montreal community like you. This is no real surprise to us at Sun Youth, where we’ve been channeling the best intentions of our supporters for over 50 years into practical, much-needed community services– at just the right time. The holiday is just such a time in our community; many Montreal families turn to us for support in making this time of year a little brighter. With your help, we can respond by distributing as many Sun Youth holiday baskets as possible. We’ll share the spirit of the season with thousands of deserving families by providing friendship, warm wishes, holiday meals, and even a special toy for the little ones. You can also take pride in knowing that your generous gift is one that helps throughout the entire year, allowing us to give our best to every Montrealer in need who walks through our doors, whatever the reason. More than just a holiday gift, yours is the gift of sports and recreation for youth, leisure and well-being programs for the elderly, support for families devastated by fire, safety programs for the entire community, and many other programs. We wish you the best for this holiday season and beyond, and thank you for being part of a team that puts community needs first every day of the year. Enjoy this special time of year, and be sure to make the most of your celebrations with your loved ones. Happy Holidays!

Earl De la Perralle Executive Director

Sun Youth • Annual Campaign Please make out your cheque or money order to: Sun Youth Organization Inc., 4251 St. Urbain, Montreal, QC H2W 1V6. Tel.: (514) 842-6822 Online donations at

Sid Stevens Executive V.P.

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Editorial: Who will lead us through these critical times? With a new Quebec government about to be elected,and as the Harper government in Ottawa stumbles in its first weeks, we have a message for our readers and politicians alike: This is no time for adventurism. We see the world economy teetering from crisis to crisis, we watch our savings dry up, and more than ever we need strong, stable, sensible government. That is why the Quebec Liberal Party under Jean Charest is the best choice in this provincial election. Yes, the Liberals take voters in west-end Montreal for granted. Still, there are some excellent candidates and with them we still have some clout. The alternative, as far as having the required number of seats to form a government, is the Parti Québécois under Pauline Marois. With their social-democratic stream, they can be effective in opposition. But the last thing Quebec needs right now is a party committed to breaking up the country taking power, even if the PQ has shelved for now a referendum that would enable such a cataclysmic process to begin. We dismiss Mario Dumont and his ADQ because they want to go too far, too fast in enabling private health

care, and other ill thought-out policies, such as dismantling school boards. We like the Green Party and its call for a saner approach to the deterioration of our environment. We also appreciate Québec Solidaire and its fight for social justice with such policies as raising the minimum wage from $8.50 to $10.50 and indexing it to the cost of living so the working poor can survive. But between both parties, only Dr. Amir Khadir in Mercier riding has a chance of being elected and we would welcome his defeating the PQ’s Daniel Turp there.If Jean Charest does get a majority this time, we have confidence he will be well placed to get the English super hospital built, reinforce our health care system and maintain our universities with gradual and relatively slight $50a-semester increases in tuition, which will remain the lowest in Canada. Stephen Harper, on the other hand, did not get the majority he hoped for when he broke his commitment to fixed elections every four years. He lost it because of miscalculations in Quebec, especially the $35 million in cuts to grants for culture that to many revealed the government bias inherent in his ideology.

safety is involved. As for the crisis around the subsidies to political parties, the Conservatives were beating a hasty retreat in an attempt to avoid being defeated on a confidence motion. This could have set in motion a bid by the opposition parties to cobble together a coalition. The alternative is another costly federal election, surely not in anyone’s interest, including the Liberals as they prepare to replace Stéphane Dion. Harper’s ploy has backfired, revealing a manipulative streak that this country could do without. We would prefer a cooperative approach, one that takes into account that this still is a minority government, and inspires, rather than reeking of rank opportunism.


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Then, without a clear mandate, he tried to pull what can only be described as a dirty trick: Instead of announcing spending programs to stimulate the economy and help hard-hit manufacturing and forestry, his finance minister tried to insert more right-wing ideology. Jim Flaherty had the nerve to attempt first to deny civil servants the right to strike for three years, and second, to cut the $1.95 per vote subsidy to political parties. Both these proposals have since been withdrawn. On the first point, there is no justification at this time for denying workers, be they in the public or private sector, the right to withdraw their work as a pressure tactic in contract negotiations, except when public

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Cover photo by Peter McCabe: Adrian and Nathalie Bercovici with HSBC volunteers Lina Azara and Diane Lapointe Published by Publications Newborn Inc. Contents copyright ©2008. All rights reserved. Legal Deposit: National Library of Canada No. D368087 Dépot légal Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec, 1993. Although every caution is taken by Publications Newborn Inc. to monitor advertising in the THE SENIOR TIMES, claims made by advertisers are not necessarily endorsed by Publications Newborn Inc.



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The Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at McGill University are looking for healthy men and women for a study comparing the effects of bright light and negative air ions (as produced by air purifiers) on how individuals interact with others. Participation involves use of the light and negative ion generator each for 30 minutes for 21 consecutive days, filling in a one page form after 6-10 social interactions per day and three sessions in the laboratory totally about 3 hours. Participants must presently be working at least 30 hours per week. Participants will be compensated for their time.

For more information, call Zoe Hsu at (514) 398-2529. This study is supervised by Dr. S.N. Young and Dr. D.S. Moskowitz.

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10 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008

Abortion woes for Obama? the rest of the population. And despite the warnings of a number of bishops not to vote for a pro-choice candidate, Neil McKenty exit polls found that 54 percent of Catholic votAmidst all his economic challenges, ers supported the Obama-Biden President-elect Obama is heading ticket. Is it likely that a growing towards a showdown with Amer- number of American and Canadian icaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Catholic bishops over the issue Catholics are realizing there is more of abortion. merit in the gradualist approach (reAt their bi-annual meeting in No- ducing abortions) than the absovember, the president of the bishopsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lutist one (trying to eliminate them conference, Cardinal Francis George altogether). Is it also possible that of Chicago, said that while the bish- the pro-choice group is more effecops â&#x20AC;&#x153;rejoiceâ&#x20AC;? at the election of an tive in reducing abortions than the African-American president, they pro-life group is? And what a relief should confront him over his sup- it would be if both groups abanport of abortion rights. doned their sterile debate on aborPresident-elect Obamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s views on tions and pooled their resources to abortion are reflected in the party reduce them. platform. The Democrats support a It would seem that the key to lowwomanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right to choose. But very ering the rate of abortion is presignificantly the abortion plank was venting the number of unwanted extended this year to include meas- pregnancies. Pro-choice supporters ures to reduce abortion. These in- such as President-elect Obama and volve strengthening the social and his running mate, Joe Biden, a praceconomic safety net to enable more tising Catholic, champion wider acwomen to bring their pregnancies to cess to birth control. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also been term. pro-choice elected officials who It would seem at first glance that have fought for insurance coverage programs to reduce abortion are of the procedure and the introducsomething that both sides of the tion of new and more effective conabortion debate could agree on. But traception. that is not the case, at least with the Only 11 per cent of sexually active leadership of the Catholic church in American women forego contracepthe United States and also in Canada. tion, and this 11 percent account for Cardinal George said in a news half the abortions in the United conference that while the bishops States. Both Senators Obama and supported â&#x20AC;&#x153;social welfare programs Biden support the comprehensive that come to the aid of the poor,â&#x20AC;? sex-education programs that seem to they also would continue to lobby work as opposed to advocating nofor legislative and legal restrictions sex-until marriage programs which on abortion. do not. It would seem from this and other In addition to abortion, the bishops episcopal statements that the pri- also said they were concerned that mary objective of the bishops is not President-elect Obama was reportonly the reduction of abortions but edly planning to overturn President their elimination. Bushâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s directive that banned most reThis reveals the inherent weakness search on embryonic stem cells. of the bishopsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; position. It is simply As the bishops wrapped up their not realistic to think that the United meeting, the abortion debate continStates (or any other western country) ues. But one thing is sure. The absowill pass laws and restrictions that lutist position, eliminating all will criminalize abortion. abortions because they are considThe American Catholic bishops ered murder, will not be realized now have been at war for a long time on or later in either Canada or the the abortion issue. But, after having United States. The gradualist posispent an enormous amount of polit- tion, reducing abortions as much as ical capital on this issue, it is difficult possible, will carry the day. It is into see that they are any closer to deed a pity that the bishops do not their objective, the elimination of realize that their absolutism does not abortions. help their cause, it hinders it. Nor do Catholics themselves seem However the bishops confront him to support the bishops unqualifiedly. on the abortion issue, it would seem Most polls show that about the same that President-elect Obama has proportion of Catholics in the most Americans, including Catholics, United States and Canada support a with him on his policy to reduce policy of restricted abortions as do abortion.

Pit Stop

Fraser-Hickson must fundraise to ensure future For Shannon Rose, 18, “everything began” at the Fraser-Hickson Library. “I feel really excited,” the college student said when she heard that the 123-year old Library – closed since early 2007 – will reopen next fall. “That’s where I learned to read. The library fostered a lot of the interests I have today.” It was a beaming John Dinsmore, president of the Library’s board of directors, who gave The Senior Times a tour of the new premises at Trinity Memorial Church on Sherbrooke W, just east of Decarie, near the Vendome metro. “We are in a firm contractual agreement with the church,” Dinsmore said. “They are delighted to share space with us while serving the community.” Though the pillars of the $6 million plan are in place, the Fraser-Hickson must resume fundraising to assure its continuity. As a first step, requiring an investment of $2.5 million, approximately 70,000 items in the library’s collection will be made available to the public in a beautiful 9,000 square foot heritage space, featuring high windows and 18foot archways in the lower level of the church. The second phase, costing

Photo: Kristine Berey

Kristine Berey

John Dinsmore and Reverend David Sinclair about $3 million will see the building said. Parking spaces are planned and of a 21,000 square foot extension on the site will be wheelchair-friendly. The the Marlowe side of the church. There library is looking to restore its memwill still be a children’s library, meeting bership and volunteer base. rooms, and a rental space for commuWhen the library first closed, many nity events. Plans for a new section for of its 12,000 members joined the CSL teens reflect the library’s commitment and Westmount libraries. These facilito literacy and young people. A refer- ties were overwhelmed during the city ence section will provide more com- merger, while they were free to nonresputers and an emphasis on a range of idents. When the city demerged, these electronic resources. “We have always new memberships were terminated. been a library that has helped people Those who fought to save the Fraser increase their knowledge,” Dinsmore Hickson expressed a sense of betrayal

by the decision makers at the seeming lack of political will to preserve it. Many find it a bitter irony that a library that had provided free services to Montrealers from 1885 to 2003, would not benefit from a 10-year action plan implemented just as the Fraser-Hickson had to close its doors. The plan calls for an investment of $125 million to build new libraries, renovate existing facilities and upgrade library services in the city. “You have to realize their collection was very different,” explained CDN/ NDG borough mayor Michael Applebaum when asked why a public-private partnership was not realized. “They are a research document and history library and a City of Montreal library is more of a popular library.” But Applebaum said the FraserHickson has been a vital part of the community for over 50 years and deserves to be funded. “It’s an excellent project. The borough will support them with funding for a long-term plan. They still have to find the necessary funds but when they go to any foundation, they can say the City of Montreal backs us – that we support them re-opening can’t be questioned.” Community support is essential to (continued page 14)

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Santa’s wrong: it’s naughty and nice


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He’s making a list Checking it twice He’s gonna find out Who's naughty or nice – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Haven Gillespie & J. Fred Coots, 1932 It is quite apparent that the duo of Gillespie and Coots had no etymological training or they’d have realized that etymologically there is no dichotomy between the states of naughtiness and niceness. The word “nice” emerged in the English language and originally meant “foolish” or “ignorant” (it derives from the Latin, nescius, “ignorant”) but before long it carried the connotation of wantonness or lasciviousness. In quotations from the 14th and 15th centuries it is associated with ribald and lustful behaviour. Observe the following from Chaucer’s Romance of the Rose written in 1366: “Nice she was, but she meant no harm or slight in her intent.” More than two centuries later Shakespeare uses the word in much the same manner in Love’s Labour Lost: “These are compliments, these are humours, that betray nice wenches that would be betrayed.” The Shakespearean line reminds me of thesophomoric joke that made the rounds in the early 1960s that purported to explain the difference between a good girl and a nice girl in this manner: The good girl goes to a party, goes home and then goes to bed, whereas the nice girl goes to the party



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but goes to bed before going home. In the 16th century “nice” went through a shift of meanings and came to mean such things as “delicate,” “elegant,” “cultured,” and “respectable” but it would not be until the 19th century that it became synonymous with the word “pleasant.” While most readers are probably not cognizant of the original naughty sense of nice, I suspect few people are not aware of the change of meaning of a certain word that appears in the Christmas songs Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Deck the Halls. Observe the following lyrics from these two melodies: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Make the Yule-tide gay” and “Don we now our gay apparel, Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la, la-la.” Nowadays, if someone were exposed to this latter lyric for the first time, he/she would be excused for believing that the theme involved cross-dressing. Although today the word gay still possesses the sense of “merry,” the homosexual connotation is the dominant one. How did this transformation occur? “Gay” is first used with the homosexual connotation in the 1920s by American expatriates living in Paris and the word is first recorded with this sense in the OED in 1935. “Gay” didn’t suddenly metamorphose in meaning from “merry” to “homosexual.” By the 15th century it referred to one “addicted to social pleasures and dissipations.” A “gay dog” referred to a man given to reveling or self-indulgence. In 1630, William Davenant in The Cruel Brother and Nicholas Rowe later in 1703 in The Fair Penitent unveiled libertine characters they dubbed “Lothario.” As a result, in the 18th century, the term “gay Lothario” was used to refer to such a character. In the 19th century, the word was sometimes applied to a woman deemed to lead an immoral life, such as a prostitute. Also, the term “gaycat” may have influenced the semantic change of the word “gay.” By the turn of the twentieth century, the word was used by hobos to refer to a tramp’s companion, usually a young boy, and often his catamite, which is defined by the OED as “a boy kept for unnatural purposes.” Incidentally, the word “gay” is still evolving If a teen tells you that “a party was gay,” he/she is probably not describing the sexual preferences of the party-goers but rather is stating that it was not a good party. A merry Christmas to all. Howard Richler’s latest book is Can I Have a Word With You?

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No laws exist for common law unions in Quebec They consider themselves married but the law of Quebec does not. In all other Canadian Joyce Blond Frank, B.A., B.C.L., LL.M. provinces two people can declare themselves to be married common The need for companionship does law and the union will have the same not diminish with age and an in- effect as a regular marriage. creasing number of people are enIn Quebec, a common law martering into a committed relationship riage does not really exist. Although for the second and third time. A fre- some social legislation does include quent question is: should we marry common law couples, no laws exist or just live together? setting out the rights and obligations Marriage is defined by law as â&#x20AC;&#x153;the of the parties one towards the other. lawful union of two persons to the This means that when the common exclusion of all others.â&#x20AC;? The common law relationship breaks up, there is law relationship has been defined as no obligation for one to provide supco-habitation with an element of port to the other, regardless of the permanence. What are the legal dif- difference in their respective incomes ferences between the two? and regardless of the number of Entering into marriage is a formal years they have been living together. procedure carried out by a legally auNeither is the family residence prothorized person and requires that the tected as it is in the case of married free consent of both parties be de- couples. This means that if the famclared openly in the presence of at ily home belongs exclusively to one least two witnesses. In the case of a of the parties, the other can be forced common law relationship, two peo- to leave. This may not seem fair but ple decide to live together. They set the position has been justified by the up house and make their own finan- courts on the grounds that common cial arrangements. They may or may law relationships are a threat to the not enter into a written agreement. institution of marriage, that unmar-

Legal Ease

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ried couples do not make the same commitment as those who marry and therefore the rights and duties created by marriage should not follow. The theory is that where the choice of two people is to live common law, it is because they do not want to incur the obligations that result from marriage. Consequently, to presume that common law couples want to be bound by the same obligations as married couples would be contrary to that choice. The decision to marry includes the acceptance of various legal consequences of the formalized marriage, including the obligation of mutual support between the spouses. Where individuals choose not to marry, it would undermine the choice they have made if the state were to impose

upon them the very same burdens and benefits which it imposes upon married persons. Statistics show that, In Quebec, about 30% of relationships are common law. Interestingly, it was the Council on the Status of Women back in 1991 that lobbied against granting legal recognition to common law couples on the grounds that it went against the autonomy, equality, and freedom of choice of women. The time will come when the law will catch up with reality. Meanwhile common law couples be well advised to enter into a co-habitation contract as they begin life together. Joyce Blond Frank is a Montreal attorney specializing in family and elder law.


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Making the holiday season joyful for your loved one The holidays are quickly approaching and reminders are everywhere. Christmas carols can be heard on the radio, and there are lights and decorations every which way you turn. Gift buying suggestions overflow our mailboxes. Bonnie Sandler, S.W. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukah, the holidays are times for celebration, family dinner gatherings, and party invitations with the un- This time is difficult for many. We remember our derlining expectation of comfort and happiness. loved ones who are no longer with us, we worry about having enough money to buy gifts, and some of us crumble knowing our lives are less than perfect during this so called festive time. We see family and friends who are not well, who are going through hard times, and we look at our own lives questioning our own level of happiness. But what about the caregiver? How will she celebrate the holidays? How will she get through this time with all she has on her plate, living the “36 hour day?” Will she be expected to buy gifts, cook and entertain family and friends? For the caregiver who struggles to get through each day, I hope that she will be surrounded by STEVEN DECKELBAUM loved ones who will recognize her life and reAffiliated Agent spectfully include her in their holiday time if that GREENSHIELDS POINT Teamed up with is what she wants. Some people prefer to ignore Jeffrey Ray & Exclusive Estates Ste-Agathe-des-Monts the holidays and this should be respected. Well Premiere OceanviewCozy Florida properties. 3 Bedroom Home 3bd/2.5ba elegantly designed, meaning people may pressure others to join them 285 ft of Lakefront Palm Beachsq Condo, Intracoastal Views! 68,000 ft. Choice location. in their festivities and do not hear what is really Full amenity building. Panoramic View! being said to them. Take the time to listen and to Offered at Occupancy. $495,000. Immediate respect the wishes of others. Century 21 Elite 2000 Chartered Real Estate Broker Personal Office Cell: 514 585-1453 A precious gift for a caregiver is time. Offer your 513 chemin Lacasse Ivry North, Lac Manitou, Q.C. Off.: 819-326-5331 time to free the caregiver to be able to enjoy activities of her own. If you want to add to this, think H O U S E O F T R A V E L of a gift certificate for some body pampering, or for a favorite boutique. Invite her out to a movie Special prices for SENIORS! and dinner and arrange for someone to stay with Cruise Specialist on All Major Cruise Companies Special accompanied groups on different departures her loved one. Holidays bring memories of past times, better Certified specialist from Switzerland. Go nearly anywhere with Swiss Air times, and with these memories come sadness. If and stop a few days in the Swiss mountains. we are dealing with a sick loved one, we wonder Very special rates! For your travel arrangements, what the new year will bring. Will the loved one call us first or last and save! be here for the next holiday? It is easy to suggest that we focus on the present, the days of the holiRoyal Caribbean is “Explorer of the Sea” 12 Days 8L1

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Library set to go (continued from page 11)

libraries, says the director of the Eleanor London CSL library, Tanya Abramovitch, but not by having people pay out of their pockets in fees. Even in CSL, where residents treasure their library, when a $5 membership fee was instituted in 2005, the registration plunged from 18,000 to 13,000. “Support for public libraries is a very long term commitment. They need the promise and support of politicians to prosper. I cannot imagine how we would survive without the support of my council. The library budget for 2008 is $2.3 million.” Abramovitch says her new book budget alone is over $200,000. Many readers who want to read books in English, regardless of their mother tongue, feel the Fraser-Hickson is a unique and irreplaceable Montreal resource. “We’re looking for expressions of popular encouragement,” Dinsmore says. “We have a place, we have a plan, but we still need money. Does the community want the Fraser-Hickson to flourish? That is the key question.”

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day, and to make the best of this time. The suggestion is easy, the follow through is harder. There are no magical answers. Someone with Alzheimer’s should not be ignored during the holiday season. Think back to how these times were spent in the past, before the disease. What did the person enjoy about the holiday season? Was it the food, the songs, a decorated tree, the opening of gifts, small or large gatherings? Plan to include your loved one in some of these activities. The treat of a turkey dinner with all the fixings, potato latkes and sugar donuts, a beautifully wrapped gift, some old time music or movie that can be enjoyed by all. Keep in mind that these activities should not be overwhelming, but at a level that the person will feel comfortable. I see too many AD individuals forgotten during the holiday time. People may think that they won’t really understand a celebration, but this is not true. A special dinner, dressing in pretty clothes, a gift, hearing lovely music, seeing beautiful decorations can all be a joyful experiences. We tend to think that everyone else’s life is perfect and that it is just ours that is challenged. Intellectually we know that this is not so, but during holiday time we are bombarded with images of happy people enjoying celebrations. No one is ill, no one is alone. Each year we read about how difficult the holidays are for so many people. Decide what works for you and your loved ones. Focus on doing simple things to bring a smile to the face of someone you love. Do not forget the caregiver; do not forget the Alzheimer individual. Even a person far into the disease can smile and feel joy. Comments and questions can be sent to and may be used in future articles.

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14 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008

Shannon Rose

Photo: Lucas Chartier

Victor Knight has always had acting on his mind. He has shared that passion with Dawson students for a quarter century. “Victor’s 86. The man’s been around and he knows what he’s talking about,” said Kyle Pelletier, a third year student of Knight’s. He’s one of the older teachers at Dawson who is able to communicate with the younger generation.” “My family was in show business,” said Knight, a teacher in the professional theatre department since 1974. “I was the eighth child, so my mother certainly was no longer a dancer. My father had been an entertainer in London.” Knight explained that when his father returned from serving in World War I, he chose to drive a taxi. Knight speculates that his father no longer had the stamina to be an entertainer. “Very frequently he would get calls from his old friends in the business that would say ‘we need a couple of kids for a film next week,’ I would go trotting off and do extra work, small part stuff.”

he enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England. He never completed this program. “After I graduated — well I didn’t graduate, I got kicked out.” He explained that a lot of his classes got cancelled and he and his classmates were frustrated. “The whole class got mad and they said ‘go and tell them.’ I was fool enough to do that.” He said he was labeled a troublemaker and was asked to leave.“I didn’t make the trouble, they made the trouble.” This bump along the road didn’t phase Knight one bit. “I immediately got work so it didn’t matter.” It was a job at the Kew Theatre in Kew Gardens, in London.“The week that I got kicked out of school, I got a job there and I worked there for three years. “One day, a friend of my fathers called me up and said ‘Victor, my niece is coming down from Montreal and is interested in the theatre. Can you take her?’” This call altered the course of Knight’s future. “I said I would try to fit her in somewhere and I did. I later followed her to Montreal and we got married and had a child.”

Victor Knight’s students on the Romeo and Juliet set Gabriela Saltiel, a second year the“I wish he had told you the story of atre student, has obviously heard how he got engaged,” said Saltiel who about Knight’s beginnings in the the- had been eavesdropping. “The first atre world. “He was born into the play that they saw together was business and it shows because it’s so Twelfth Night and when he proposed in him.” to her he took this quote from the Like Knight’s father, his acting ca- play and it goes on and on and on reer was put on hold due to serving about how he could love her and in a world war, but when he returned, how he would show his love to her.

Shannon Tosic-McNally, Victor Knight and Gabriela Saltiel It’s the sweetest thing ever.” be at Dawson College. Sister SaintAlthough Victor and Helen Knight Laurent was working in theatre at are no longer married, they share Marianopolis College. “She got into grandchildren in England. trouble with a play that she was diWhen Knight arrived in Montreal, recting. The sexual parts were getting he began working in radio. He worked embarrassing so she asked me to finat a daily soap opera called Laura Lim- ish the play for her.” He did the same ited. “Your mother may know about it, thing the following year. you wouldn’t though,” said Knight, After she joined Dawson College, addressing one of his students. Knight said she called him up and He also worked on a national broad- said, “You’ve got to come here now.” cast every third or fourth Sunday. He Knight began his career at Dawson explained that the pay was lucrative teaching pre-university courses. for the time. For the two gigs, he was Shortly after, he was approached by making well over a hundred dollars a members of the administration to deweek doing what he loved. velop a program for professional theKnight explained that he did not atre with the help of Bert Henry, a originally plan on becoming a long-time colleague in the department. teacher. He was working on a play at Knight wanted the students to have Sir George Williams University that a venue for their plays. “I was walkthe Chief of Studies was directing. ing along Notre-Dame street and I “He was directing the play but I saw this empty cinema and I called ended up doing a lot of the directing Bert and I said, ‘Come with me, I’ve for him because I’d been in the busi- got to look at this place.’ It was in apness a little bit longer than he had. At palling shape but it was perfect. It the end he said ‘You’re a born teacher.’ had romance written all over it.” This I didn’t believe him and I said ‘I did- became the original Dome theatre. It n’t even finish high school.’” He was was 1974. “I’m making new friends every year assigned two courses. “What I like about the way he di- with these students. I tried retiring. I rects is he lets you do what you want took one semester off. I felt like I was first,” said Bineyam Girma, a third waiting to die and I don’t like waiting year theatre student. The third year to die.” “I wish he was my grandpa,” said students are currently working on Romeo and Juliet. “I had an idea of Shannon McNally, one of Knight’s how Tybalt should be and I brought students, as she walked by. “I’m doing exactly what I want do,” it to the stage. He doesn’t tell you, he said. “What possible reason could ‘play it like this.’” Knight explained how he came to I have to retire?”

5555 Trent, Côte St. Luc, Tel.: (514) 486-1157 December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 15

Photo: Scott Philip

eatre legend invites students to bring ideas to the stage

Kristine Berey When they were children, Serge Laflamme dreaded having to go to the hockey arena with his brother Daniel.“Children can be very cruel,” said Serge, as he recalled the kids making fun of his brother, who was born prematurely with cerebral palsy in 1958.

Stéphane Daraiche with parents

The neurological damage has, among other things, prevented Daniel from ever using his arms. But now Serge couldn’t be prouder of his brother, a successful artist who lives on his own in an apartment, gets around on a special tricycle and earns his living through his art. Stéphane Daraiche was an active 7year old whirling dervish until, in 1975, a car rammed into him as he was riding his bike, shattering life as he knew it so far. His mother Micheline Marley was there to help him as he emerged, a quadriplegic from a sixweek coma and had to re-learn everything from scratch. “It took him two years to accept it,” Marley said. “He was very angry at first. We had to take things day by day.” Along their difficult paths, both these young men discovered they had an aptitude for art. For Daniel, the breakthrough came when he saw a tel-

evision show featuring a young girl without arms who used her feet to accomplish different tasks. Inspired, Daniel learned to eat and draw with his feet. Eventually, he began taking painting lessons at the Couvent SaintJoseph in St. Foy. Stéphane first began using a pencil after his accident in order to communicate with his family, since pronouncing words was, and still is, difficult for him. Though confined to a wheelchair and deprived of the use of any of his limbs, Stéphane learned to hold a pencil in his mouth and manipulate it skillfully. Soon the writing turned to drawing just to pass the time, and his mother bought him coloured pencils, then paints and canvas. Today Stéphane lives on his own in an adapted apartment. He paints images of his own design in oil and like Daniel, sells his images with the help of Canada’s Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA). At a recent demonstration at Complexe Desjardins, admiring crowds gathered around the two artists as they built up their canvases. Stéphane was putting the finishing touches on a leaping unicorn he created out of his own imagination and Daniel was completing a robin perched on a leafy branch. MFPA is not a charity. Its mandate is to locate and encourage mouth and foot painters and help them achieve financial independence through the use of their talent. This is especially significant considering that 52% of people with disabilities are unemployed, while only 6% of

Photos: Kristine Berey

Artists transcend limitations to earn success and appreciation

Daniel Laflamme demonstrates his dexterity at foot painting able-bodied Canadians are jobless. MFPA Canada was incorporated in 1961. It is the Canadian branch of the international Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists which has 700 members in over 70 countries. The self-supporting organization is owned and controlled by member artists. It creates greeting cards, calendars and gift items such as puzzles, stationery and prints, featuring the images of the painters. The reproductions of the artists’ work are marketed through a direct mail program and provide an income to all member artists, who retain the rights to their original work as well as the net profits from all sales. For information or to order call 866637-2226 or visit

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16 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008



Tendre la main pour aider. Reaching out to help.

Feeding a child... the right thing to do! Dear Friends,

Children are the most vulnerable citizens of society and the hardest-hit victims. Children are constantly deprived of access to basic services, resources and fundamental human rights. In Canada, J. Douglas Willms, editor of Vulnerable Children: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth, has said that “children who did not have a good start in life have difficulties rebounding and achieving their full potential.”

Generations Foundation supporters believe that one of the ways children can benefit in life is from a variety of nutritional food programs, including hot meals. Throughout the years, Generations Foundation has worked tirelessly to provide food and services to children. We are few, but we are dedicated. Fortunately, there are kind and generous people in the community who help us with their time and with their resources and ask for nothing in return. There are times when one finds it difficult to ask for or accept help, however, it is especially important that we provide sustenance to the most vulnerable, the children, who often are not aware of when and how to ask for help even when it is most needed. There is no charge for any of our food programs. Generations Foundation receives no government grants, but we are thankful for your donations which are channelled directly to children and families in crisis. Without your help, too many of our community’s children will be at risk. We thank you in advance for your invaluable support and generosity. Sincerely,

Make A Difference In A Child’s Life!

Adrian Bercovici, Executive Director

The Generations Foundationfeeds nutritious breakfast, hot lunch and snacks to approximately 6500 schoolchildren DAILY in 72 schools and learning centers. December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 17

Dancing the fairytale dream Molly Newborn

A ballet mom’s memory Barbara Moser

Molly was 8 when she first experienced being on stage before a live audience. It was 1989. She had been a student of Ora Kozlov’s at the Greene Ave Ballet School for three years and now Ora had chosen Molly and other lucky little girls to dance in Ballet Ouest’s Nutcracker. Molly was a chef, dressed in a chef’s costume, a chef’s hat and a big wooden spoon. The rehearsal involved long hours at Westhill High School, where Ballet Ouest performed in the 1980s. Molly loved every minute of it. Her big night came and I volunteered to help with make up and costumes. What mother wouldn’t? I remember the look on her face for the entire 3 or 4 minutes she was on stage for every performance. It was magical.The morning after the finale Molly wouldn’t go to school. She lay in bed clutching her autographed program and

cried, saying she didn’t know how her life would go on without The Nutcracker. What was the use of going to school if she couldn’t be on stage dancing The Nutcracker? I called her ballet teacher Ora who asked to speak to Molly. I don’t remember what she told her — probably that all ballerinas feel this way after their first performance and that she had to eat and go to school and be strong so she could continue being a dancer. Whatever she said, Molly got up and went to school. The next year Molly was a Mother Ginger in the ballet. And the third year she was in the opening party scene. Molly never got the chance to dance as Clara but she continued to study dance with Ora till she started college. Molly still has that program book from 1989. And I know we both often remember that first magical night on stage in The Nutcracker.

It is that time of year again. The time for snowflakes, flowers, mice, toy soldiers, a sugarplum fairy and a young girl named Clara to come together and tell the story of The Nutcracker. Every year Ballet Ouest dazzles Montreal audiences with its production of this fairytale ballet. Founded by Margaret Mehuys in 1984, the company performs new ballets as well as a classical repertoire. They invite outside choreographers to create original works “from which a contemporary dance language can be constructed.” Mehuys started the company when her ballet students expressed interest in performing. With money raised from a garage sale and donations from parents, Ballet Ouest was born 24 years ago. The company has come a long way. “We perform in a big theatre with a professional crew,” Mehuys says. “There is an elaborate set with ten scenic drops, 130 costumes and 25 professional dancers. It has become a professional company.” This year’s cast is comprised of 107 dancers ranging from ages 7 to 93. Evelyn Hansen-Gillis, 13, from Dorval and Karina Armuplu, 12, from Saint Laurent get to live out every young girl’s dream this year by playing the lead role of Clara. Dell Ross, 93, plays Clara’s grandmother in the opening party scene. “The beautiful thing about The Nutcracker is that it gives kids the chance to experience live performance,” says Mehuys about the young dancers. Former Ballet Ouest dancers have gone on to train at the École Supérieure de Danse du Québec, the National Ballet School of Canada, and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Ballet Ouest dancers will be on their toes in their holiday production of The Nutcracker Saturday, December 6 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm and Saturday December 7 at 2 pm at Salle Pierre Mercure, Centre Pierre Peladeau, 300 de Maisonneuve E. Info: 514-783-1245 or

Happy Hanukah & Best Wishes for a Healthy & Happy New Year! Large windows, elegant & bright lobby and dining room Warm & friendly personnel Musical performances and social activities


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A holiday gift idea from the publisher


Dear readers, Are you wondering what to give your favorite teenager for Hanukah or Christmas? Why not introduce them to the joy of giving by donating a toy, book, game, a basket of non-perishable goodies, and/or Hanukah gelt to the charitable organization of your choice? Be sure to ask for a card from the organization to be sent to your special teen telling them how much a contribution in their name means to a less fortunate child. My suggestions Toys: Generations, Share the Warmth, Sun Youth. Special gifts for teens: Generations, Share the Warmth. Hats, mitts, scarves, and socks: Dans la Rue, Generations. Food: Share the Warmth. Gelt (money): Epona Foundation and all of the charities listed above.

Epona Foundation: 514-421-7433 or Generations Foundation: 514-933-8585 or Share the Warmth: 514-933-5599 or Sun Youth: 514-842-6822 or December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 19

Sun Youth Seniors gear up for the holidays


Photo: Nicolas Carpentier

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! 514-685-5252 11800 de Salaberry, D.D.O.

Volunteers from the Sun Youth Seniors Club wrapping toys for 12,000 young ones: (from left to right) Réjeanne Cronier, Roger Lemieux and Fernande Plante


Reserve your Holiday Party early 5768 Monkland 514-486-4343

Here at Sun Youth Nicolas Carpentier On November 27th, CHOM and CJAD were broadcasting live on the sidewalk in front of the Sun Youth building for our Annual Holiday Collect. Once again, Montrealers were very generous. From 5:30 am to 7:00 pm, volunteers from the two radio stations and from Sun Youth were collecting funds and non-perishable food items in preparation for the Sun Youth Holiday Basket Campaign which will be helping 20,000 Montrealers again this year.

Sun Youth will also be distributing 12,000 new toys to children whose parents are registered for Christmas baskets. These toys are individually wrapped by members of the Sun Youth Seniors Club. Sun Youth has been registering people for Christmas baskets since September. Those who wish to apply are requested to bring a proof of income, a proof of address and the Medicare cards of everyone in their family, including the children. The information is then entered in a database and sent to the Montreal Central Index to avoid duplications and to make sure everyone registered gets a food hamper. From all of us at Sun Youth, Happy Holidays and the best for the New Year and beyond! Info: 514-842-6822

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Murray’s Famous Roast Turkey with all the trimmings is now back.

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Who is the real Santa Claus? The Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History will present Who is the real Santa Claus? December 6,-7, 13-14, 20-21, 23-24, 26-28, and 30-31 at 350 Place Royale (corner de la Commune). All are invited to meet Melkior, Babushka, Black Peter and Santa Claus. While visiting the archaeological remains, children will meet four Christmas characters who will explain how the holidays are celebrated in their parts of the world. Come on a world tour of holiday traditions! Meet them all and decide for yourself. Plan for about 45 minutes to complete this tour accompanied by and interpreter-guide. Places for each tour are limited. Tours are from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. The last tour in English leaves at 3 pm. This price of this event is included with the cost of admission to the Museum. Info: 514-872-9150 or • Photography • Computers & Technology Animation Computer-Aided Design Computer Basics Graphic Applications & Web Design, ...

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We didn’t always eat this way Jean-Pierre came over. While this was partly religious – it’s hard to be penitent with a full belly – there just wasn’t the amount of food we take for granted. When grandfather Berel arrived from Eastern Europe a century ago, he left behind a village where greens were eaten in the summer, root vegetables in the fall and fresh meat or fish was, at best, a weekly indulgence. Forget about “the hundred mile diet.” If it grew, swam, flew, or walked (with varying restrictions) you ate it. The smoked meat we drool over in Montreal is made with one of the toughest cuts from a cow. This is peasant fare. No one back then said “I’d like it lean.” The Yiddish proverb “When a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick” makes sense in any poor country today. Early immigrants to North America were astonished that they could get meat at breakfast, lunch and dinner: bacon and eggs, a hamburger, a nice piece of chicken. What a country! In

Flavour Guy Barry Lazar Latkes, chruschich, pfefferneus, fruitcake, baked ham with a pineapple glaze, turkey with oyster stuffing … we didn’t always eat this way. The Flavour Guy is grumpy, trying to put things in balance knowing that the end of the month will bring on a couple of kilos of parties, family fêtes, and late night, very enjoyable binges. The festive season is for feasting. We once balanced feasts (from the Latin for joyful or merry) with fasts (meaning self-control). Christians have Lent, Jews look to the 9th of Av, the Fast of Esther, and Yom Kippur. Muslims celebrate Ramadan. Many Hindus fast when there is a full moon. I remember when good Catholics did not eat meat on Friday. For Erev Shabbos (Sabbath Eve), we might serve chicken but there was a large jar of gefilte fish if my friend

A Christmas dinner for all in memory of Keith Louis Eight years ago Keith Louis saw someone digging into a garbage bin outside of McDonald’s and thought, “hey, that could be me.” Keith died last December but his company, Keith and Karyn Promotions, is hosting their 8th annual free Caribbean Christmas dinner and toy giveaway Christmas Day, dedicated to his memory. The event held from 1-6 pm is for those who can’t afford a big dinner or who don’t want to be alone. All Montrealers are welcome to the Caribbean Paradise, 8080 Newman, Lasalle (metro Angrignon, bus 106 to Thierry). The public is asked to donate food for the occasion. What is needed: non

perishable foods, chicken, turkey or beef, desserts, milk, soft drinks and juice. Clothes, toiletries and toys are also very welcome. Another way to help is to sponsor a meal for a family of four by donating $20. Pickups are scheduled starting December 6 but the dropoffs are also welcome at 2368 Beaconsfield, corner Sherbrooke. Guests will enjoy a free hot dinner and live entertainment. There will be a live broadcast hosted by CKUT 90.3 FM, face painting, and gifts from Santa. Housebound individuals can arrange for a meal to be delivered to them on Christmas Day. Info: 514-486-4423 or

the old land, only the very rich could eat meat daily. Here anyone could... and three times a day! This was a sign that they had arrived in the promised land. It was the end of the fast. Those caught in the transition – from old country to new – relished this unending feast because they remembered doing without. It’s there in images, in photographs of older generations who look a little thinner, a little smaller than us. It’s there in the steady gaze, a remonstration that we have it good. Today, having lost the memory of the fast, the grump in me asks: are we really enjoying the feast? Fortunately there are a couple of bummers coming around – Advent, the 10th of Tevet – check your religious calendar. With so much feasting ahead, there

EX O f r u i t s

might be a day or two to push the plate away. Most fasts don’t mean doing completely without, but restricting the diet to basic foods – no meat, no oil – to aid contemplation. As Satchel Paige put it “Don’t eat fried food, it angries up the blood.” Here’s a dish to help set things in balance. It’s strong on flavour but weak on indulgence. Take a thick piece of stale bread, toast it severely but not burnt. Rub a half clove of garlic over both sides while it is still hot. The garlic will ooze into the toast. Put the toast on top of a bowl of hot vegetable or chicken broth. Add a little grated cheese. Sip slowly and think sublime. You can reach the Flavour Guy at

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An art career spanning seven decades drawing. In those days there werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t many books available, as they all came from Europe and had to be translated. After that she got a job in the advertising department of Morganâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s doing illustrations of merchandise. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We would be given an empty page and we would have to plan it,â&#x20AC;? she recalls fondly. She worked there during the war years and had to be very creative with resources. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You get your merchandise and you invent the figure, or else somebody tries something on and you do a life drawing. It was really a fun job.â&#x20AC;? She worked there from 1940-1946, leaving to get married and raise three sons. Taking care of family Susan Horan close community. Her neighbourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and working as an artist proved to be father was also her doctor and she a challenge. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was hard to do freeWomen of Anita Shapiroâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s genera- learned that they had relatives in lancing because it was only on the tion were either teachers, nurses, or Boston. Her friend went to Boston to weekends,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whenever I had secretaries. Anything outside of study, got an arts degree and came a call to do some work, it was just the that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really accepted. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My back. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She was a few years older than time that I had other plans.â&#x20AC;? mother and father would have liked me and she got a job at Eatonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and me to go to McGill,â&#x20AC;? Shapiro says. thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s where I got the idea,â&#x20AC;? says â&#x20AC;&#x153;You would go to McGill for an arts Shapiro with a sparkle in her eyes. degree and do teaching after, which She took art classes at Sir George most of my friends did.â&#x20AC;? Those were Williams University in the 1930s and the 1930s. followed up by studying life drawing Going against tradition, she chose and landscapes with Herman Heima different profession. Growing up in lich. They would go out on location, Westmount she was exposed to a practice and learn everything about

Once her children were grown, Anita was back into her professional career full swing. She belonged to Powerhouse, which later became known as Le Centrale. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wanted to meet other artists,â&#x20AC;? she remembers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This was in the 1970s and I met some very nice people who Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m still in touch with.â&#x20AC;? Over the years sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perfected many styles of artwork including abstract, still life, figures, and cubism, in various media including charcoal and acrylic. She was influenced by the impressionists and loves colour. Her latest paintings explode with colour and shapes, a stark contrast to these dark fall days. Going against the norm proved the right decision in the long run for Anita Shapiro, who sums up artâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lifelong appeal in noting thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s little that could keep her from it: â&#x20AC;&#x153;These are such fun to do!â&#x20AC;?

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Coffee, tea or paint? Shannon Rose Most of us love chocolate and some of us are coffee addicts but what do we think of these delicacies as painting mediums? “When they told me the paintings were made with a medium of coffee and tea, I thought ‘you can’t go wrong,’” said John Zampetoulakis, owner of the newly-opened Kokkino’s café where the paintings are being displayed. “I lucked out. I think it’s great.As we were putting them up, people were buying them.” As I walked in and joined the crowd sipping free coffee and eating baklava, I saw dozens of beautiful paintings depicting landscapes, flowers and animals. The framed paintings were all over the cozy, warmly lit café. One of the paintings in particular caught my eye. It looked like it had been torn. “Her dog ate the painting and then she stuck it together again,” Zampetoulakis said. There’s a picture of the dog underneath the painting. Gladia Jarka, a member and artist of the Women’s Art Studio of Montreal, explained that when instant coffee, tea or cocoa is mixed with water, it becomes similar to a sepia toned watercolour. “It’s fun, it’s quite forgiving. But it has its own set of challenges,” said

Deanne Hall-Habib, Bertha Truchek, and Gloria Meiloff Pauline Shapiro, a member of the studio who originally brought this idea to the group. “I saw an exhibition of paintings in Bromont at the chocolate festival and I saw some people doing coffee work. I researched the Internet and I found out how to do it.” She demonstrated the technique to her fellow painters. “I went to a gallery and it was all wine and cheese,” Zampetoulakis said. “Everybody was so into themselves. Here, everybody’s nice.” The paintings are reasonably priced and Zampetoulakis bought one for his daughter as a Christmas present. The exhibition continues at Kokkino’s, 5673 Sherbrooke, corner Harvard, until December 14. December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 27

Nelson Symonds remembered Starting at $1500 per month, including 3 meals, afternoon “tea time” & laundry services. Suites available w/whirlpool bath & fireplace. A place you’ll be proud to call home & come home to! A visit will convince you!


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28 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008

fore that I was up north with Charlie Biddle for six years, from ’71 until ’77,” he said. Although he played at most of Montreal’s Jazz Paul Serralheiro clubs in his time, and perWhile rock guitar seems often to be formed with many top name jazz artists about loud, egomaniacal posturing, the (people like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, John jazz guitarist is a much more subtle Coltrane and Blue Mitchell to name a beast. The epitome of the understated, few) he didn’t record until late in his camodest yet enormously talented jazz reer, and made only two CDs as leader guitarist is Montreal’s own Nelson and as many as a sideman on saxophonSymonds, whose passing on October ist Dave Turner’s dates. “I really never 11 gives us reason to re-evaluate his thought about it cause I always got a work. Symonds was a sophisticated, chance to play here in Montreal,” he said though under-exposed artist whose by way of explanation. “I was at the music was deep and heartfelt. Black Bottom for five years from ’63 till Tributes are being written across the about ’68 and La Boheme from ’68 till country. Many are speaking about ’71 and then we were up North.” Symond’s playing, including OttawaNeither was studio work his bag. “I’m based guitarist Roddy Elias who was re- not into that. I’m self-taught. I’m not a cently quoted as saying that upon his sight reader,” he said. He also preferred first hearing Symonds’ guitar, “on an the intimacy and the flexibility of the emotional, expressive, spiritual, soul level club. “Usually I’ve been in a place for a I knew I was in the presence of someone long time. So I really didn’t care about recording if I had a chance to play. A lot of people ask me the same thing, but, I don’t know, it’s not something I really thought about ’cause I always got a chance to play.” The change in the jazz scene in Montreal in the 1980s that saw the fall of the jazz club in favour of the festival format meant sporadic engagements. truly extraordinary.” From what I gath- But it also meant a chance to play with ered about the man, this greatness was international celebrities for a large audithe result of a humble approach to his ence, like Symond’s opening set for a art and the strong work ethic that gov- Ray Charles concert in the St. Denis erned his life, aspects that are docu- Theatre at the Montreal International mented in the 1984 film by Mary Ellen Jazz Festival. “We’re not used to that,” he Davis, Nelson Symonds, Guitarist. said. “It’s not like playing at a night club. Born in Halifax in 1933, Symonds left Doing concerts like that. You know home in 1951 to work as a musician in you’ve only got an hour shot. You have Sudbury, then toured the States with to be ready for that. The main players vaudeville and carnival troupes before are geared to do that, and they do a lot of heading to la Belle Province in the mid- it. We’re used to playing in clubs. You try 50s. In an interview I had with him in to get yourself up for that. A lot of times 1983, he told me that his first jazz gig you’re playing at a new club and you “was in 1958 in Montreal, at the Vieux open up the first night and you really Moulin on Sherbrooke Street near feel great the first set, but you don’t plan Bleury. That was my first legitimate jazz on that. If you don’t feel great that first gig, although I’d improvised before in set you know you’ve still got a couple the Black vaudeville shows.” more shows to play. So sometimes I have Once settled in the Montreal area, a tendency to be a little bit uptight, but Symonds mainly stayed put: “I only I tried to be as loose as possible on that played in the States once, jazz wise. My concert with Ray Charles. I never really only jazz gig in the US was in Milwau- played in front of that many people, kee in 1960. I was there at a club for that’s another thing. So I was pretty nine months.” Symonds was a tireless tense. Everybody that knows us knows club performer until he was slowed that. Under those circumstances it was down by heart trouble in his later years. adequate. Most of the time was for Ray “I’m supposed to be starting a job Charles. But anyway, it wasn’t too bad.” tonight at Mingus on Bishop for a couMost of his fans would say, rather, ple of weeks,” he told me that spring af- that the music of Nelson Symonds was ternoon in 1983. He also told me about some of the finest jazz you could hear how he had spent “three years at Rock- in this city and anywhere else, for that head’s Paradise [on Saint Antoine]. Be- matter.

Notes of note

Station Knowlton

Holiday Fun in Monkland Village & Sherbrooke West

This quaint coffee shop and store offers numerous products and services including sugar-free reduced carbohydrate mixes and pasta, gluten-free pre-packaged breads and pasta, fair trade gift items, all natural hair and body products, Montreal-made natural soaps, wireless Internet, fair-trade teas, and Sunday workshops (soap making, perfume making, tea information and more). Soon, their name will change but products and services will remain the same. 514-489-2386

5671 Sherbrooke W

Malibu Gourmet

Java U

Owner David Sacks This friendly neighbourhood coffee shop has a warm comfort feeling with hardwood decor and art adorning the walls. Drop in for organic teas or coffees, artisan sandwiches, and fresh pastries. They also have a “create your own salad bar” with a diverse selection of ingredients. 5511 Monkland


Patisserie de Nancy

Owners Marie-Josée Bernard and husband Didier Legué This is definitely one of the best caterer gourmet shops in Montreal. You can find anything here – Asian salmon, schnitzel, crab cakes, veggie burgers, quinoa salad, butternut squash cannelloni, key lime pie and biscotti. They offer a great variety of soups for the cold season. 5751 Monkland


Photogenie I

Owners Marie-Josee Bedard and Claude Chateigner Patisserie de Nancy brings top quality deserts and pastries to Monkland Village. For over 50 years, they have been making homemade chocolates, quiches, petits fours, candy, bread, sandwiches, pastries and sorbet. Everything is made on site. This is the perfect place to buy your holiday treats! 5655 Monkland


Owner Isabelle Gerbaux and assistant Robert Wales A friendly custom framing shop that specializes in restoration, lamination, beautiful cards, and gift-wrapping paper. They also develop digital pictures and 35 mm film. Special until December 24: 20% off framing work. December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 29 5661 Monkland



High end fashion at Place Kensington


Photo: Robert Galbraith

If you want to escape the cold Canadian winters, Fountainview invites you to experience the finest in retirement living. Located in West Palm Beach, just minutes from the heart of the city, Fountainview offers Five Star service, fine dining and beautiful resort-style amenities.

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Shannon Rose Most people think that fashion shows are about haute couture but the Kensington Knitters would disagree. For them it’s about having fun and displaying their knitted creations. “We model, we're not very sexy but you get the idea,” said Miriam Berger, founder of the Kensington knitters club. “All of this goes to Father Johns, for the street children,” she said as she pointed at the stacks of blankets, hats and scarves that were to be donated to Dans la Rue (an organization founded by father Emmett Johns, serving youth living in the streets or youth at risk). Residents, Berger and Elinor Cohen organize the Kensington Knitters who meet weekly to knit blankets. “The two of us are retired professional social workers,” Berger said. “We try to develop leisure time activities with a purpose. We're helping Father Johns.” “This is one of the few groups that supplies us with blankets,” said Father Johns. He explained

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30 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008

that Canadian Tire used to donate blankets to the homeless but then someone from the Old Brewery Mission went public saying that the homeless don’t need blankets, they need housing. “Nobody said that they didn't need housing, but when they're cold, a blanket does pretty well.” “Its hard work but it’s worthwhile,” Cohen said. “The street kids walk around with them on their shoulders.” This isn’t only about the kids, Berger said. “Socially it's wonderful. We get together and have tea and cookies, we talk and we fool around with knitting.” Cohen explained that the residents knit squares and then she sews them together and crochets the edges to make complete blankets. “Every blanket is a combined effort. Each square is made by an individual.” Every November the knitters model their “fashions”. This year, they had less residents participating than in previous years but the atmosphere was still jovial.“Not as many residents get involved because the age group is older now,” Berger said. “There are more resources in the community so that they can stay in their own home longer, rather than coming into a senior's residence.” This year there was live music and a witty MC while the models strutted along the catwalk with their blankets draped across their shoulders. The auditorium was filled to the brim with residents who turned out to see the show. “Everybody who knits gets a flower, formal speeches are made and then we have the parade.” Berger said. “The mobile residents model and then we pick a couple of waitresses who offered cause not everyone can do it. So many of them are on canes and walkers.” “I'm getting kind of used to seeing all this beauty but the first time I saw the fashion show, I was going to rush down to Holt and Renfrew and say I've got an idea for you,” Father Emmett Johns said. “They quite appreciate these. We love our kids, but we're not able to give them the warmth that a good knitted blanket does in the middle of a winter's night.”

More paramedics on the horizon Shannon Rose Paramedics in Quebec are hard to come by, and wait times can be exceedingly long. “There has been a shortage of paramedics for quite awhile,” said Michel Godon, cochair of the pre-hospital emergency care program at John Abbott College. “This program will try to get more of them out there which has an effect on response times. Some people have to wait up to a couple of hours before they can get an ambulance. It’s all based on priority.” He explained that paramedics are frequently overworked. “They just don’t have enough. During the summer people were booking overtime on their days off. They cancelled their vacations to work, because they were needed.” They operate in 12-hour shifts. They try to stagger the hours so that there are always a decent number of medics on the road. “As a paramedic, when you need a day off, you’re tired, you’re burnt out; it’s not always feasible to take a day off, because it means that there’s not going to be anyone responding.” As a teacher in the John Abbott paramedic program, Godon tries to prepare his students for the rigorous nature of the job. “We had them do night shifts on the weekends, some of them didn’t sleep all weekend and they love it.” Regardless of the demanding nature of the job, it’s rewarding. “One thing about this type of job is that people don’t go into it just for a paycheck obviously. They want to help people. They don’t mind doing extra shifts.” The students want to learn this

profession so that they can help people, but there are other perks as well, Godon said jokingly. “They like the truck with the red lights and sirens. They’re getting paid to break the law, speed through red lights.” This is the first semester that John Abbott has offered this program. But Godon has been working on it for two years. At completion of the program, students will be trained for primary care. They take biology, immunology, pharmacology and emergency medical courses in order to learn to stabilize patients before sending them to the hospital. They will be trained to deal with “something as stupid as someone letting off a smoke bomb in the metro,” to dealing with modern day crises inlcuding weapons of mass destruction and hazardous materials. Paramedics and ambulance drivers are one and the same. During their training, the students take 45 hours of ambulance training. Godon said that he was chosen to write the program because of his background and connections in the industry. He is a retired paramedic firefighter and also co-chairs the Police Technology program at the college. With the integration of this program into Abbott’s curriculum, there will likely be more paramedics on the road within a couple of years. “There’s going to be better care because there will be more people available. If we hire more people there will be less delays.” Godon said that there are two other colleges, Ste-Foy and SteAgathe, who offer a similar program. “I looked at what the other

colleges were doing and I consulted with the people that I’m working with and then we decided to add the John Abbott touch to it.” He explained that in the other colleges, the internships were done at the very end of the training. “I felt that if you wait long enough to put someone in the hospital to realize that they don’t get along with sick people, it’s kind of too late.” At John Abbott they start their internships right away. “We’re very prosuccess at Abbott. If our students start a program, we want them to finish it.” Godon explained that the students spent the last two weekends observing in ambulances and dispatch centers, the 911 center where the calls come in for the ambulance. “As a paramedic you’re in the vehicle all the time, you get your calls on the radio.” He explained that even though his students will never be working in a dispatch center, it changes the dynamic when you know what is going on, on the other side of the phone call. “It’s a good idea to know where those calls are coming from, what those people are actually going through

while giving you those calls. They’re on the other line talking to this person, who might be really panicked. It’s chaos.” The students are also spending 24 hours at the Veteran’s hospital and an internship in the geriatric ward of the Montreal General. “More and more patients that they have are elderly. Problems breathing, stomach problems, the flu.” Older people often wait too long to call for help, he explained. “Maybe they should have seen a doctor two weeks before, but when they call, it’s a crisis situation.” Some paramedics can get annoyed with some of the callers because they feel that they are not in a dire situation. But this type of attitude is unacceptable. “If they’re calling you it’s because they need help, so you’ve got to give it to them.” Godon emphasized that a priority is to make the students aware of the importance of politeness and respect. “If the patients feel comfortable with the medics, then things will go a lot better. “We’re there to serve the citizens and give them the respect that they deserve.” December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 31

What’ s Happening in December


Saturday, December 6 from 10am – 2pm St. Clement’s Anglican Church hosts a Christmas Mini-bazaar and Saturday, December 13 a St. Nicholas Pot Luck and Penny fair at 4322 Wellington, corner Gordon. $8. Info: 514-769-5373 Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14 from 9:30am – 4pm Quinn Farm holds an old fashioned Christmas craft fair at 2495 Perrot, lle Perrot to benefit the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. Info: 450-453-1510


Sunday, December 7 at 8:45am Shaare Zedek Men’s Club hosts A Theatre of One – Jewish Style with entertainer Bena Singer and Sunday, December 14 at 8:45am the Honorable Marlene Jennings at 5305 Rosedale. Info: 514-484-1122 December 8 to 15, AMI-Quebec holds a support group for people living with mental illness and their caregivers, families and friends at the Institute for Community and Family Psychiatry, 4333 Cote St-Catherine. Info: 514-486-1448 Wednesday, December 10 at 7:30pm, Atwater Book Club, led by author Mary Soderstrom, discusses Kamouraska at the library. Info: 514-935-7344 Friday, December 12 at 6:30pm Montreal Urban Hikers meet for a Christmas Lights walk in Lasalle at Tim Horton’s, 8080 Champlain (metro Jolicoeur). Info: 514-366-9108 or 514-938-4910 Saturday, December 14 from 1–4pm, N.D.G. Canine Club hosts a Christmakah Party at Auberge Zen, 1875 Laval. Info: 514-594-4114 Thursday, January 8 at 11am the McGill Institute for Learning in Retirement will be holding an orientation session for new and prospective members. Participants choose from subjects ranging from literature to music, history to religion, travel to creative writing, and more. New term begins on January 19 and lasts for 10 weeks. Info: 514-398-8234 or


December 4–21, Christmas in the Park, featuring music, opera, songs and performers, will be held in Lahaie Park at St-Laurent and St-Joseph, and Des Faubourgs Park at Ontario and Delorimier. Info: 514-281-8942

Saturday, December 6 at 7:30pm Oscar Peterson Concert Hall will be hosting St. Lawrence Choir’s Sing Noel Concert at 7141 Sherbrooke West. The concert Features the Sarah Burnell Band, known for their dedication to the Celtic tradition, but also for and their sense of musical adventure.Tickets sold at the door. $25, senior $20, students/children $10. Info: 514-483-6922 or

Sunday, December 7 from 2–4pm AMI-Quebec holds a holiday party with live music at the Monkland Community Center, 4410 Westhill. Info: 514-486-1448 Thursday, December 11 Atwater Library hosts a holiday beading workshop. $20 including all supplies. All proceeds go to the Atwater Library and Computer Center. Advance registration required. Registration: 514-935-7421 Thursday, December 11 at 7pm the Yellow Door hosts a night of poetry and prose at 3625 Aylmer. $5. Info: 514-398-6243 Saturday, December 13 from 8pm-12:45 Solo Lachine hosts a Christmas dance for 40+ singles and couples at 1415 St. Louis, Lachine. $8/$12 non-members. Info: 514-683-4948 or 514-486-4180 Saturday, December 20 at 8pm the Single Person’s Association hosts their Christmas Dance for 35+ and Wednesday, December 31 at 8pm their New Year’s Eve dance, both at St. Catherine Laboure Church, 448 Trudeau (corner Clement and Lasalle). $12. Info: 514-366-8600 Thursday, December 25 Keith & Karyn production and promotion company presents their 8th annual Christmas Dinner and Toy Giveaway at the Caribbean Paradise Restaurant at 8080 Newman, LaSalle. Info: 514-486-4423


Saturday, December 6 at 7:30pm the StColumba-By-The-Lake Church hosts a night of Christmas music with the voices of Octet Plus at 11 Rodney Avenue, Pointe-Claire. Suggested donation $10/children free. All proceeds go to Refugee Action Montreal and the Emergency Relief Fund of Presbyterian World Service and Development. Info: 514-364-3027 Saturday, December 6 at 7:30pm The Westmount Youth Orchestra Christmas Gala takes place at the Strathcona Music Building, Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. Info: 514-398-4547 Saturday, December 6 Carmina and Friends presents a Christmas concert featuring J.S. Bach’s Live We For Friendship at the Unitarian Church, 5035 Maisonneuve. Suggested donation $10. Info: 514-843-6497

32 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008

Sunday, December 7 at 4pm the CBC/McGill series presents a gala concert of youth choirs featuring guest conductor Jeff Joudrey at the Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. $15/$10/$5. Info: 514-398-4547 Friday, December 12 at 8pm Concordia University Department of Music presents A Jazzy Christmas. $5. Info: 514-848-4848 Friday, December 12 at 7:30pm Lakeshore Chamber Music Society presents its Christmas concert with Les Chanteurs d’Orsee at Union Church, 24 Maple, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. Tickets sold at the door. $12, students and seniors $6. Info: 514-457-5280 or Saturday, December 13 at 4pm the McGill Suzuki Group will perform traditional Christmas and Hannukah music at Westmount Baptist Church at 411 Roslyn. Info: 514-937-1009 Thursday, December 18 at 8pm I Musici presents Hot Coals – Hot Keys, featuring the recently discovered Chamber Concerto by Frankck and the works of Turina and Schubert at Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. $37/$33 Seniors/$17 Students. Tickets: 514-982-6038 Thursday, December 18 at 7:30pm DorvalStrathmore United Church holds their 7th Christmas Concert and food drive at 310 Brookhaven (corner Carson), Dorval. $7 in advance/$10 door, plus one non-perishable food item. Info: 514-631-9879 Saturdays and Sundays until December 23 from 1:30–3pm, Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel presents a rotation of eight choirs singing a repertoire of carols of various origins and musical traditions at 400 Saint-Paul E. Info: 514-282-8670 Monday, December 22 at 1:30 pm, Creative Social Center presents their Chanukah Celebration, at 5237 Clanranald. Please buy your tickets in advance for an afternoon of music, dance and latkas. Non-perishable donations for Sun Youth are appreciated. $4. Info: 514-488-0907

St Lawrence Choir


Saturdays and Sundays until December 21 at 2pm and 3pm the Sir George-Etienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada hosts a 19th century Christmas exhibit from the period at 458 Notre-Dame E. $7.85. Info: 514-283-2282 Until February 16 from 10am – 5pm, St. Joseph Oratory museum holds an exhibition featuring over 300 Christmas mangers from 100 countries at 3800 Queen Mary. Info: 514-733-8211 Until January 4 Chateau Ramazay hosts Holiday Treats! Holiday Tales! – a traditional Christmas exhibit with trees, ornaments, greeting cards and table settings in the Victorian style at 280 NotreDame E. $9. Info: 514-861-3708


Saturday, December 6 at 8pm Jewish Public Library presents No Exit by award-winning Israeli filmmaker Dror Sabo at the Leanor and Alvin Segal Centre at 5170 Côte Ste-Catherine. $12, $7/JPL members and students. Tickets: 514-345-6416 Tuesday, December 9 to Saturday, December 13 at 8pm the National Theatre School of Canada presents Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Ludger-Duvernay Theatre, 1182 St. Laurent. $9. Info: 514-871-2224 Until December 13, Mainline Theatre hosts Patrick de Moss’s La Bella Luna, starring burlesque star Holly Gauthier-Frankel, at 3997 StLaurent. $17/$15 seniors and students. Tickets: 514-481-8406 December 19 to January 10 Hudson Village Theatre presents its 8th annual Christmas performance, Beauty and the Beast, at 28 Wharf, Hudson. Info: 450-458-5361 or


In the November Housing Issue, the address in our Housing Chart for ST. PATRICK SQUARE should read: 6767 CÔTE ST. LUC ROAD The Senior Times regrets the error.

Montrealʼs oldest



South of the Border Friday, December 12 from 6:30-8:30pm Swing North Big Band presents an annual concert of holiday and swing favorites at Fuller Hall, St. Johnsbury Academy. 1000 Main, St. Johnsbury. Info: 802-748-1340 or Until December 20 from 9am–6pm daily Laughing Moon Chocolates will be showing candy cane making demonstrations. Watch chocolatiers boil, pull, turn and roll these works of art and then make your own! 78 South Main, Stowe. Info: 802-253-9591 Until January 3 Firehouse center for the Visual Arts presents Written on the Wind: Contemporary Tibetan Prayer Flags,135 Church, Burlington. Info: 802-865-7166

Meet a Friend MARGARET - Healthy widow, 78, available for coffee, conversation, walks, movies, and dinners. GLORIA - Caring lady, 65, likes dining, good wine, movies, traveling. Does aerobics and walks several times weekly, seeking an affectionate, sincere, outgoing, fun-loving, educated gentleman for companionship and more, to share the good things in life with. West Island resident preferred. CAROLE - Caring widow, 65, likes good movies, traveling, playing bridge, socializing. Does aerobics, seeks an affectionate, sincere, outgoing, educated gentleman, 60s plus, for companionship and more to share the good things in life with. To contact Margaret, Carole or Gloria at Meet a Friend, address your letter and a recent photo to Margaret, Carole or Gloria @ Meet a Friend, c/o The Senior Times, 4077 Decarie Blvd, Montreal, QC, H4A 3J8.

The Gazette employees ask you to sign their online petition at Montreal Gazette employees are fighting to preserve a vibrant English-language daily newspaper produced in Montreal to serve Montrealers. The Gazette’s owners, Winnipeg-based Canwest, are moving more and more of The Gazette’s editorial and customer-service operations out of the province of Quebec in violation of the employees’ collective agreements. Now, in contract negotiations, Canwest is demanding the removal of impediments to outsourcing any remaining work outside of Quebec in order to facilitate layoffs in Montreal. These moves threaten to diminish Canada’s diversity of voices, whittle down local input and stifle The Gazette’s vital role of covering local news and reflecting Montrealers’ values, concerns and culture. The Gazette has been a proud Montreal institution since 1778 and its readers deserve better than Canwest’s plans to further downsize, centralize and outsource to maximize profits. The newspaper is operated by Canwest, however it is the public that will ultimately decide whether it will tolerate a “local” newspaper produced elsewhere. Gazette staff are appealing to the Montreal community to tell Canwest to keep the “Montreal” in the Montreal Gazette.

We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity. All contact info is kept private and all responses are forwarded from our office.

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Would you like to Meet a Friend? Send your bio of 25–30 words and a $20 cheque to the above address or call Shannon at 514-484-5033, or email your bio to and call to have us bill your credit card.

Pe r fe c t f o r G r a n d p a r e n t s ! D a z z le y o u r g ra n d c h i ld re n w i t h e a s y , a f f o r d a bl e m a g i c !

• Clean up fallen leaves • Install outside winter carpeting • Snow removal • Flushing radiators • Help seniors with groceries • Care for pets, • Repairs & renovations • Water plants

Wednesday, December 31 from 6:30pm12:30am Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington hosts its New Year’s Eve ball. Info: 802-598-6757

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On panties, slips, corsets, bras, stockings and nighties My Way Ursula Feist I have decided to devote this column to underwear! I discovered a beautifully illustrated and witty little book on one of my shelves entitled And all was revealed – Ladies Underwear 1907-1980, by Doreen Caldwell. This inspired me to look at the present Reveal or Conceal exhibit at the McCord Museum, a provocative exhibition that explores historical perceptions of modesty and eroticism in women’s clothing. In 1939 my hostess in the North of England referred to undergarments as undies, a somewhat déclassé description for smalls. On washing days they were dumped into a separate vessel, boiled clean and then hung out to air on a pulley high up over the fireplace in the laundry room, but never

talked about. My German mother drummed it into me that underwear – Unterwaesche – had to be kept immaculately clean because, God forbid – um Gottes Willen – I were knocked out cold crossing a street, what might strangers think who may have to undress me! I remembered mother’s dictum during my stint as a probationer nurse in the mining district of England. One of my duties included helping patients out of their clothes. When I lived in England, panties were either called “drawers” or “knickers,” slips were referred to as “petticoats,” and dresses as “frocks.” Drawers were held together with string in the 1800s, and a girl’s trousseau included at least a dozen pair of knickers in various colors. It must have been torture wearing corsets. My mother owned three different models and often called me to tighten the strings. With my knee

hard against her back, I pulled so hard that both of us almost ran out of breath, but she never complained. Now corsets are prescribed for bad backs. The fashion industry tends to change the material of upscale brassieres now and then. An advertisement in my little book advocates: “As necessary as lipstick, as important as perfume: A good bra is a beauty must,” and Brigitte Bardot adds: “I want to be simple, wild and sexy.” In the hippie period of the 1960s many women threw their bras out or burnt them in a heap. It spelled not only freedom for breasts, but was in keeping with feminist ideology. In 1943 there was clothes rationing in England. One needed clothes coupons and we didn’t get many. Rayon stockings could not be had and pantyhose (“tights” in England) had not yet been invented. Women wore pants (“slacks”), not much encouraged by stuffy employers, but there was a war on!

I remember the New Look of 1949 as rather unbecoming. Lingerie was anything but sexy. Nylon stockings were hard to come by unless one had an American boyfriend or enough cash to acquire some on the Black Market. Panty-girdles were the order of the day, extending from waist to thigh with attachments to fasten stockings. How liberated we are now! During the summer, our legs are bare and tiny bikinis in every colour of the rainbow follow the trend that less is more. It’s suggested in one of the books that shopping for underwear is an erotic experience. I’m no longer as concerned about that as finding a comfortable and good-feel garment I enjoy wearing, even if it isn’t alluring. I prefer large T-shirts for sleepwear to those soft silky nightgowns that need special care. We are in December and 2008 has flown by. Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2009 in whatever you may find yourself wearing.

Death policy mitigates risk look at are your build, driving record and family history as well as smoking habits. Past history such as a criminal record or alcohol or drug abuse are also considered. This information is assessed by an underwriter at the insurance company and a decision is made as to whether to offer insurance or not. Sometimes a decision is levied that carries a substandard risk which translates into an additional premium charge on the basic cost of insurance. Each applicant is evaluated uniquely. People who have endured major illnesses such as cancer or heart attack may still be eligible for insurance. It’s important when going through the application process that all pertinent information is properly disclosed to the insurer. If the insurer uncovers additional information after the policy is issued, they do reserve the right to rescind their offer. While this rarely occurs, it underscores the importance of being honest. I can state that after 18 years in the business, every death claim I’ve seen submitted – and they’ve been numerous – has been resolved satisfactorily. To summarize, life insurance is a guaranteed future payout of a lump sum of money. Take the market risk out of your retirement portfolio by adding a life insurance component.

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Everybody knows we’re living through difficult times. People are carefully reevaluating their investments and reassessing their retirement needs.With portfolios so badly devastated, I’m receiving more calls about clients purchasing life insurance policies. The basic idea is that the policy will replace the investment savings that have been lost in the current financial turmoil. Life insurance guarantees that monies will be available on the death of the insured therefore making certain that the surviving spouse maintains their quality of life and is not held hostage to any unprecedented negative economy or worldwide crisis. I am often asked if it is hard for people aged fifty plus to obtain life insurance. Generally speaking, the insurance company evaluates your profile. After obtaining blood and urine samples, which are standard, they may ask for an ECG or complete physical. It is also common for the insurance company to refer to your attending physician to confirm various medical information highlighted in your application. Other issues they

Black community thrilled by Obama’s election

Dan Philip Asian people, everybody together, just applauding and crying. I pray that he does a good job.” Dan Philip, president of the Black Coalition of Quebec, a human rights and social justice organization serving the interests of the black community. Recipient of the Rosa Parks award from the Canadian Human Rights Commission. “Certainly I had doubts like everybody else but I think it shows what you might call the maturity of American society.” Richard Best, son of WWII veteran Mascoll Best who died in action. “Obama’s victory was a healing process for the United States in coming to terms with itself and truly recognizing its diversity and dynamism.” Mascoll Best and other

Photo: Kristine Berey

Egbert Gaye amazed at the young age group that followed the election right from the beginning.” Sheila Goldbloom, retired social work professor, recipient of the National Order of Quebec and the Order of Canada. “I’m delighted. I think it provides a universal feeling of hope that we can change the system and make it work.” Victor Goldbloom, former Quebec minister and president of the Quebec Region of Canadian Jewish Congress. Recipient of the National Order of Quebec and the Order of Canada: “It’s quite spectacular how many different elements in American society supported Mr. Obama. This is really a manifestation of the best that the United States can be. Soon we’ll see more and more people of various origins rising to positions of major responsibility in Canada.” Gemma Raeburn, senior auditor at the Bank of Montreal. Community activist in the black and larger community, recipient of the U.S. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award: “I was originally a Hillary supporter, I would have loved to see a woman in the White House. The night Obama gave his victory speech, it was really moving to see him standing in a crowd of white people, black people,

Photo: Kristine Berey

Barack Obama becoming the president of the United States has evoked a depth of emotion around the world rarely seen in history. Montreal film-maker Laurie Gordon was in Rome on “the long night of Obama” and recalls the anticipation and electricity that permeated that city. “We were six hours ahead so everyone stayed up all night. I was in a café when they were still counting the votes and a barista came in and just said one word: “Obama!” Closer to home, The Senior Times asked people whose work involves them in community and social justice, what Obama’s victory means to them. Egbert Gaye, publisher and editor of Community Contact, the black community’s monthly newspaper since 1994: “I’m surprised that America moved so easily to not seeing race as a hindrance. It’s a redemption for the nation.” Dorothy Williams, Montreal historian whose book Blacks in Montreal 1628-1986: An Urban Demography was re-issued this month. “I was watching the election on TV and realized I was standing in front of History, that nothing was ever going to be the same again. For our youth it was an absolutely life-changing event – it said to them ‘anything is possible.’” It’s a door that is never ever going to be closed again.” Dr. Williams also mentioned that there were American presidents before Obama whose ancestors included black people. “Anybody who knows about race and history knows he’s not the first black president. It’s not a secret because his blackness is visible.” June McGibbon, program coordinator at the Walkley United Families Association: “I heard one little boy say to me ‘Now I can be what I want to be’ To have a black president is, for this generation, eye opening. I was

Photo courtesy of Egbert Gaye

Kristine Berey

Dorothy Williams Caribbean veterans are honoured by a plaque in the Canadian War Museum thanks to the tireless efforts of the late R.C.A.F. Flying Officer Owen Rowe. Luigi Marshall, community worker at the Black Community Resource Centre: “Obama represents progress for all people, not just Americans. It doesn’t changes people’s realities in one day but makes the saying you tell young people – “You can do anything” – more real.”

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Transportation manners: depends whom you ask Tanya Boyce Ryan Watkins, an 18-year-old CEGEP student, is accustomed to a large crowd using public transportation. But it’s only now that he considers it a large and impatient crowd. In October, he recalls a gentleman with a cane struggling to get down the stairs with his bags. “He managed to make it down and then the metro finally came. Everyone just shoved forward. He got so frustrated that he actually jabbed me with his cane, pointed at his bags, and grunted. No one even bothered to notice him and so no one helped him.” Although the station was filled with people, not La Cie.



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one of them helped the obviously struggling man. Watkins grabbed the man’s bags and followed him onto the metro. “I held onto his bags for only two stops. He looked at me briefly, took his bags, and got off without saying a word,” Watkins says. Watkins was surprised. “At first I expected a thank you or at least a smile but then I realized I didn’t deserve it. I did exactly what everyone else did – ignore what was inconvenient,” Watkins says. Watkins thinks that common courtesy is no longer a priority, especially among youth. “We’re just so caught up in our own lives and overwhelmed by the whole idea of growing up and becoming individuals that we end up ignoring things that aren’t connected to us,” Watkins says. Watkins hopes that the youth will become less self-absorbed. “People move at their own pace and whenever that pace is interrupted is becomes an inconvenience. We should become more considerate and aware of other individuals around us regardless if they have a connection to our lives or not.” Tyler Colmars, 21, thinks that the amount of consideration should be based on the conditions in a particular situation. “Some days I’m exhausted. And I’m sure a lot of other people are too but when I’m that tired – I just have to focus on myself,” he says. The public transportation system has a set of posted and unwritten rules he says. “Everyone knows the basics. If someone is pregnant, injured, or ridiculously old – you let them sit down or at least move out of the way for them,” says Colmars. Apparently there’s more to it than just that. “No guy is going to get up for a girl, it just doesn’t happen anymore. It’s first come first serve. And whoever is already sleeping, forget it. Sometimes there’ll be an older lady staring at me the whole bus ride and I won’t budge.” Colmars is not easily persuaded to give up his seat. “People who are capable of standing will just have to stand. If she was there first then I would have stood.” Marielle Dubenois takes her grandchildren on the bus to the Fairview Pointe-Claire shopping mall. “Sometimes we’ll all get a seat and sometimes I’ll have to stand so that the kids can sit down,” she says. Dubenois does not mind the loud or rowdy students on the bus. However, she finds their lack of


consideration for those around them irritable. “I get tired and my grandchildren have trouble standing on a moving bus,” Dubenois says. “They can obviously see this but sometimes no one does anything about it. It’s disappointing. An adult or another elder seems more likely to give me a seat than someone young.” Dubenois will visit friends downtown on a regular basis. They take walks around the area and often browse through stores. “I walk slower than others. I would figure that it’s expected and understandable. My legs don’t move as smoothly as they used to,” she said with a smile. “People will rush by us and rudely ask us to step aside. It’s rare that I’ll hear someone genuinely and politely say ‘Excuse me.’” Dubenois explains that the majority of people seem to be constantly distracted. “I don’t expect an abnormal amount of courtesy from others. But, holding a door open or giving up a seat on the bus is barely inconvenient for anyone. I don’t understand it,” she says. Dubenois thinks that this lack of etiquette is not due to selfishness. “I believe people are generally good and sincere. Sometimes they just aren’t fully aware of the things around them.” She believes that people are overly preoccupied. “This sort of thing sometimes leaves my grandchildren and me standing on a bus. It’s an unfortunate but somewhat understandable lack of consideration.”

Memories of love The Senior Times wants to hear your Valentine’s Day stories. How did you meet your spouse? What is your favorite memory of your lover? What was your worst date ever? Three stories of not more than 250 words will be selected for publication in our February issue and the writers will each receive a free year’s subscription to The Senior Times plus these prizes: 1st Prize: Towards a Canada of Light by B.W. Powe, Race you to the Fountain of Youth by Martha Bolton and Brad Dickson, and The Desert Lake by Linda Leith. 2nd Prize: A year’s membership to the FraserHickson Library for one adult and one child (value of $11 — library opening next fall). 3rd Prize: The Montreal Book of Everything. Photos are welcome. Submissions can be sent to

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Adam Desaulniers Jane Petrov, playing the Bird Woman in the Montreal School of Performing Arts’ a capella production of Mary Poppins, has been a returning acting student for five years now. “I did a lot of theatre when I was at McGill years ago, then I had a family and became a librarian,” she explains. “Then just before I retired, I decided I’d enjoy going back to theatre, – so a friend brought me to MSOPA, and the reception I received was a very warm one. So I started taking classes, and I have no regrets.”

Unfazed upon learning she’d be belting out her numbers solo, she says it’s “not a problem since my mother was a music teacher – we started off early in life having to sing without accompaniment. It was the music of the Bird Woman that attracted me – it’s almost the theme song of Mary Poppins.” And theme is everything in this particular production. “I think a lot of message got lost in the original musical,” says director Dale Hayes, who adapted the a capella version with an eye to highlighting the theme – which, to her, is about priorities. “The message is family,” she maintains, citing elements of the story that got lost in the 60s version’s catchy tunes. “Mr. Banks, the children’s father, he’s very much business, business, business. And the kids several times during the opening of the play refer to their father – ‘I wish father had more time for us, I wish he could come and play with us.’ And through a series of events that happen in the play – that actually happened in the movie, but I don’t think people really focused in on that – the father comes to a realization that family is really important, that his children are more important than the almighty dollar, and it takes a tuppence – two pennies – to make him realize that in the end.” An edgier, more meditative Mary Poppins? “We could have done a really dark version,” says Hayes, “but we weren’t going to go there. We still had to

think about the kids, you know. There’s a lot of laughter and the kids are going to enjoy it because there’s what they’re expecting – the fun stuff – but there’s also this family message that’s clear. Of course the kids are going to expect A Spoonful of Sugar, Chim Chim Cher-ee, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – and those songs are in the play – but it’s all a capella, we didn’t focus on the music. We really focused on the theme and the message, and it’s interesting, because the father, in the first half of the play, he talks about money and how important it is and about the stock market, and I thought, ‘how topical.’” The modern resonance of the theme and the Bird Woman’s place in it held another part of the role’s appeal for Petrov. “It’s through the little boy giving a tuppence to this woman, to feed the birds, that the realization comes that there’s more to life than the stock market going up, up, up or down, down, down.” But she didn’t simply have the part handed to her based on type. “It’s never done that a person is solicited for a role.” No one gets in without passing the audition – “you always have to in this school.” “When we first started the school,” says founder Josa Maule, “we weren’t going to do any productions – just train actors.” After a couple of years, she recalls, “we did ‘pay to play.’ If you were in the class, you were in the production. That didn’t work really well – we did three shows, and it was cute and their family and friends came, but it just didn’t do it for us. So then we decided, yeah, we’re going to start auditioning people.” “We cast within the school, but it’s an audition process just like it is in the real world,” says Hayes. “They have to pass a cold reading, which means that they don’t get any chance at all to go through the script. They can read it beforehand of course, but they don’t get to see the scenes that they’re going to be auditioning. The actors from our very first level right up to our more advanced students, they all have the opportunity to audition for the role. And they know going in that it’s a heck of a commitment. It’s serious stuff. We work for eight weeks, every weekend, some evenings – and as we get closer to the production date, it’s like… grueling, you know? But they live for it, and they’re up to the challenge, and it’s working out. I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made. It’s a professional-caliber production, not like a highschool musical. It’s good stuff.” Besides the stage chops, students get preparation for the mechanics and etiquette of the trade.“We’re a school first and foremost,” Hayes notes. “It’s important that our actors are well informed about not just how to act, but how to audition, and how to get the role, and how to be in a production, and the protocol when you’re in a production, and all that sort of thing, so it’s a learning experience.” Some learning curves are longer than others. “A few of our first students,” from 1992, “are still with us today,” reports Maule.“Alan’s one of our ‘oldest’ students (he’s in his fifties). He takes several classes over and over just to be in the game of things and to get everything right. He likes the opportunity of working with new people from time to time… he says I’m not getting rid of him anytime soon.” Petrov sums up the experience as “going back to

Photos: Robert Galbraith

Not your father’s Mary Poppins

something that I really love doing… and what really meant most to me over these last few years is how you have young and old people all working together, to create the magic of theatre.” “We’re an acting community within an acting community,” Maule says. “Once you come onto our stage it’s like you feel right at home.” Maule’s school goes out of its way to make theatre accessible for actors and audiences alike, with $10 Friday workshops and regular show seats for $12. “Not everybody can afford $20-30 a person to bring out a family,” she says. “We also do casting mostly for independent and student films, which pay nothing or very little, and we’re doing 11 plays a year called Express O Theatre, where we promote new plays from new playwrights, preferably local.” MSOPA hosts an open house 2 pm Saturday, January 10. Mary Poppins runs until Sunday, December 14 with shows at 2 pm Saturdays and Sundays and at 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Info: 514-483-5526 or December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 37

Times and Places Barbara Moser

Our favourite Old City restaurant

Strange architecture adorns Skopje

Behind the walls, Skopje’s Old Town enchants Skopje is perhaps the most surprising city we’ve ever visited, possibly because we had no guidebook or recommendations from friends to depend on. The kindness of the Macedonian people continued as our bus from Ohrid, which we had boarded with the help of the Dimoska family, stopped at a cafeteria. It was a welcome respite on this hot and stuffy four-hour trip. I was already regretting leaving the family in Orhid or at least in the town. While everyone was buying burekas I was in line for the toilet. Alas, I had no denars to pay the attendant. One of my fellow passengers came to my rescue and also changed a euro or two to denars so we could partake in the marvelous, huge cheese burekas that we wolfed down as the bus departed. In Skopje, we were dropped off at the train/bus station and found a cab to the hotel the family had recommended. Upon discovering that it was beyond our budget, we asked the owner for advice and were the recipients of yet more Macedonian hospitality. He drove us to an inexpensive hotel! It was 35 euro and 5 euro extra for the necessary air conditioning above a bar on a small street across from the Greek consulate. The room was tiny and non-

descript but it was a walk from the town circle and as we later found out, on the same street as the Jewish community centre. It was a windy-twisty but interesting 20 minutes to the massive circular ton square. We had to write down markers such as Sex Shop along the way. But don’t get me wrong. It was a pleasant area, past bakeries, pet shops, restaurants, and shoe shops. We had pasta and salads in a posh, antiquey European style restaurant after checking out the bookstore for a guidebook — to no avail. The next morning, we headed out towards the medieval fortress across the bridge and once inside the small gate, we discovered an Old City. Its narrow stone streets beckoned to my yearnings for small oldfashioned boutiques, handicraft shops and cafés, and to Irwin’s yearnings to find an internet café where he could sip espresso and play internet chess. Lo and behold Irwin was reading a small sign posted beside a door. We had stumbled upon the Honorary Consulate for the State of Israel. We rang the buzzer and immediately were let in. Usually security isn’t this lax, but our friend upstairs told us he had been expecting a friend. We climbed the stairs and there was the assistant to the Honorary

38 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008 Old City view

Soles for sale

Consul, his son, a dapper young gentleman who welcomed us warmly, serving us coffee and providing us with two students who would to take us over to the Jewish Foundation building. During coffee, we talked about the history of Macedonian Jewry. He told us 7,148 or 98% were deported to Treblinka. Only 200 Jews now live in Skopje, some having immigrated to Israel. Inside the foundation building we met Victoria who is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the foundation responsible for building the “Holocaust Memorial Center of the Jews of Macedonia.” Macedonia is returning land and funds to the remaining Jews as reparations for land and property that was stolen, and the center will be ready, says Victoria, this summer. I had a fleeting thought that it would be nice to return for the opening.

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BARBIERI G A lazy afternoon in the Old City Victoria spent three years in Israel ten years ago, but her family returned fearing the conflict there. We stepped out onto the street and she showed us a restaurant or two where we could sample authentic Macedonian cuisine. Then, she took us to her friend’s jewellery shop where Irwin purchased gold earrings for my birthday at a great price. After our lunch of kebab for Irwin, an exquisite yogurt soup for me, and Greek salad and roasted peppers for both of us we wandered our own ways. I discovered an antique beaded jewellery shop where I spent two hours negotiating prices and sipping Turkish coffee. He hightailed it to the more modern bar/café where he played chess on his laptop. That evening we met Victoria for dinner in a cave like, ornate restaurant, (the name of which I wrote on a slip of paper and lost) and ordered wonderful salads of eggplant, red peppers, hot dishes of meat for Victoria and Irwin and a giant tomato cut like a pie. It must have been 5 inches in diameter and it was then that Victoria disclosed the fact that her country produces the best tomatoes in the world. She’s right as far as I know! The next morning we walked over to the Jewish community center and met the president and

secretary, two youngish women who spoke impeccable English and showed us the synagogue. This is a small but thriving community complete with a choir and a publication centre of sorts. We purchased an English cookbook of Jewish Macedonian recipes written by one of the oldest members of the community and were given a video of the choir, which we cherish and play for friends. We spent the afternoon arranging our exit from Skopja, which was by mini-bus to Thessaloniki. We figured we would arrive in this port city and hop a last minute cruise to the Greek Islands — to make up for the one we had missed in Trieste. It was a bit more complicated than that. But that story will have to wait till February. We spent our last night in Skopje trying to get some sleep so we could get up at 3:15 am to be picked up at 4 am in our minibus to Thessaloniki. Our fellow passengers were a university student who’d just finished her exams and a history buff/guide who supports his son in Santa Monica, California. To supplant his income he imports used cars from Germany. He talked a lot about the about the conflict between Macedonia and Greece. According to him the Greeks are not only jealous of the name Macedonia, used by “non-Greeks” but wary of future territorial demands on the fertile northern part of Greece, from which thousands of Macedonians were expelled, their property confiscated. Ostensibly they were part of the Communist rebellion, which was put down with the help of the British after the Second World War.


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Fountain in Vigeland Sculpture Park

Pricey, pristine, peaceful Oslo I sat in the waiting room at Heathrow airport in London, England with a room full of tall blonds. A two-hour flight northwest over the North Sea brought me to Oslo Norway. Norway occupies the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It borders Sweden, Finland, and Russia with its famous fjords coastline facing the North Atlantic Ocean. Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, while also being the most peaceful – Global Peace Index ranked it as the most peaceful country in the world in the 2007 survey. Oslo, with about half a million residents is the country’s capital and largest city. What first struck me when I arrived in Oslo was an overwhelming feeling of peace and tranquility. It was not the tranquility I found on the Greek Islands, which was mostly about the ocean and the sun. The Norwegian tranquility emanated from the people themselves. Hedda picked me up at the airport with her new hairless dog Spike. I couldn’t help but wonder how Spike made it through the Norwegian winters. Hedda and I met while studying at UCLA in the summer of 2002. She had invited me to spend a week with her in her hometown. Her house was beautifully nestled in the woods. She had assured me that I could make my way downtown while she was in school during the day, but I didn’t see any evidence of a city in the vicinity. Her house, and most of the other houses in Oslo looked like lifesize dollhouses scattered in deep woods. I found out later that these houses in the woods were only

40 THE SENIOR TIMES December 2008

a couple of miles from the city center. As Hedda headed out early the next morning for class, I walked two blocks down to the tram station and waited. I felt like I was in the sticks. Not a soul was in sight. Two stops and five minutes later I was miraculously in downtown Oslo. The city looked classically European with a mix of old architecture and new trendy stores, restaurants and cafes. There was one noticeable difference – a lack of tourists. Norway is in my opinion one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but it is also one of the coldest, temperature-wise, and the most expensive. Though Oslo doesn’t attract as many tourists as some other major European cities, as I stopped strangers on the streets to ask for directions I was pleasantly surprised that everyone spoke near perfect English. The city was lovely. I walk to the Royal Palace, built in the first half of the 19th century, which housed the Royal Norwegian Family. After a few minutes of imagining the Palace was my home, I walked down the hill and through the streets, exploring the University of Oslo and the National Theatre. I met Hedda at the Vigeland Sculpture Park – one of Oslo’s main attractions. It is Norway’s largest park occupying 80 acres with 212 bronze and granite sculptures by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. The sculptures are all of men, women and children in motion. The most intriguing piece is the monolith at the top, carved from a single piece of rock and standing 14.12 meters high. It portrays 121 human figures lovingly

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Dollhouses, forests, mountains and goat cheese embracing each other while rising towards heaven. Sadly, the Munch Museum, dedicated to the work and life of Norway’s most famous painter, Edward Munch, was closed for construction. It holds over half the artist’s entire production of paintings, including his most famous works The Scream and Madonna. Hedda brought me to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. It is a truly terrifying slope that only the supremely experienced should consider. It extends 60 meters above ground and 417 meters above sea level. It was also used for the 1952 Winter Olympics and four World Ski Championships. I did not have the guts to climb to the top, and missed a magnificent panoramic view of the city. What was most prominent about the Norwegians was their spirit for a healthy and active lifestyle. It is no wonder they are so beautiful. They are passionate about it, and they have designed their cities to accommodate it. They do not let the weather get in their way. There are numerous stunning hikes and ski slopes just 5 minutes from downtown and a few tram stops away. Norwegian food is fresh, healthy and hearty. The water in the shower is so soft it feels like silk. They don’t count calories as many are burned on the ski slopes. They eat a special brown goat’s cheese for breakfast called Brunost. It looks strange but it will put any cheesoholic into cheese heaven. It is sharp, strong and sweet like caramel. And though it is probably terribly fattening, I indulged splendidly. As far as I know, there is only one store in Los Angeles that sells this delicacy, and it is far beyond my

Vigeland Park budget at the Beverly Hills Cheese Shop. We spent our nights downtown with Hedda's friends at some trendy bars.Everyone spoke perfect English. It was early October. The streets were quiet but the bars were full of life. Drinks were expensive at $10-$15 per cocktail. I was told the best time to visit is late June. On June 21, the longest day of the year, the sun does not set and the parties last for 24 hours. With its life-size dollhouses, majestic mountains, and heavenly goat cheese, it’s no wonder Norway is one of the healthiest, wealthiest and peacefulcountries in the world.

Monolith in Vigeland Park

With Hedda and Spike in Cafe FAP-1776-C FEB 2007




Oslo Royal Palace

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Meeting Zeus and a Cretan goddess

Nancy Snipper

subtle smile, he signaled he was game for the ride – lucky for me, given the dangerous roads we had My brother Jon and I are very different. He’s qui- to drive. etly curious and knowledgeable. I’m overly-exBarely having time to bid my dogs good-bye, citable and annoying. But we have one thing in Greece swept us up as swiftly as Apollo’s chariot common: the quest for adventure. traversing the heavens. Sky-high and safe, we He needed little coaxing when I asked him to snoozed in Air Transat’s wide seats offering great come to Crete with me. With thumbs-up and a leg room. Jon and I are no spring chickens, so we both appreciated the comfy nighttime flight that rejuvenated my usual jet lag. I stayed on in Athens while intrepid Jon headed Bonnie Sandler, Social Worker for Chania, Crete where I would join him three days later. We would drive along Crete’s south• Assessment western shore, swim in its lovely Libyan sea and • Placement hike like Hercules. Checking into a darling hotel named Plaka, I was • Case Management surprised by it’s cozy affordable charm and quiet • Support Groups beauty. Its location put me in the middle of Midas gold: shopping, dining and ancient sites. I had the • Educational Workshops best of both worlds: a lively Plaka neighboruhood 514-489-8678 outside; tranquil Plaka Hotel inside. My room offered a breathtaking view of the Acropolis, but it ALZHEIMER’S EXPERTISE got even better atop Plaka’s roof garden. An awesome 360-degree view of Athens revealed itself. w ww . s e r v i n g m o n t r e a l s e n io r s . c o m Two hotel feasts: the view and breakfast! It was time to meet Jon. We were both set on doing some spectacular hiking in Crete’s incredible La Résidence Tax gorges. Our favourite hike was Imbros Gorge, Four Credit hours to the finish line with a beach to reward you. 30% No matter the gorge, a treasure of floral magnifi-


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cence unfolded. Orchids poked out of crevices dug deep into the earth. Oleanders, lilies and poppies appeared among intimidating boulders. Our feet were treading over billions of years of time! No trip to Crete would be complete without serious caving, so Jon and I set out to find the Ida cave – birthplace of Zeus. After driving hours to reach the foot of Mount Psilaritis’s 2,456 metres, we stumbled upon the legendary cave. What a disappointment! We were staring into a black cavern with no opening to explore. I went red with rage. Never one to interfere, Jon let me have a go at the god. Carefully stepping down the stairs leading into Zeus’s rock hovel, I cursed the God in broken Greek. We had traveled over 1000 kilometers (I allowed myself poetic exaggeration) and all he could give us was a dank cave, an old Cretan goat and some crows flying overhead. Albeit, their cawing supplied some eeriness, but we deserved better! Even the off-tune lute music we had heard the night before in a hotel high up in Monasteraki village and the priest we had met in Meronas who requested I stay thirteen days to convert me into a good Greek Orthodox girl was more interesting than this. Crete has over 2000 caves. Why did this one have to be a dud? The next day I realized Zeus had been present, for he gave us an unforgettable gift. It happened while we were trying to traverse the waters along Kourtaliotiko Gorge. Suddenly, a beautiful nymph-like lady appeared. “I’m Sylvie: follow me,” she said, waving. This goddess guide led us out of the gorge. We were ascending into unknown territory. “Welcome to my home,” she smiled. It was a cave covered in flowers with running water, even fire. Stretched out over one of her cave cushions, Sylvie cooked us our first cave meal: keftedes (meatballs), tzatziki with herbs picked outside her cave and yogurt with honey from the gods. Lulled by Sylvie’s magical manner, we nicknamed her Calypso – Odysseus’s kidnapper. Our hiking was put on hold. My “Ode to a Cretan Urge” was being fulfilled right here. As stars twinkled and Sylvie smiled, the black hush of midnight descended. We were a trio in a land resonating with minotaur myths, impenetrable mysteries and surprises that confound the imagination.

an a poem.

e th For Mr. Penfield, it was mor

g read in his memory durin ed nt wa he ter let e lov a It was . his commemorative service

very been and will always be a s ay alw s ha e on ed lov a of celebration, Commemorating the loss on their memory through a rry ca to e lik uld wo u yo r mpany you personal act. Whethe graving, we pledge to acco en an or n llio da me ry mo a monument, a me to love. in the planning of this ode ious moment at a time. Honouring life, one prec 8 735-1361 For more details, call 1 88 or visit www.cimetierendd December 2008 THE SENIOR TIMES 43

The Senior Times Dec 2008 digital version  

Dec 2008 version of The Senior Times monthly

The Senior Times Dec 2008 digital version  

Dec 2008 version of The Senior Times monthly